Officially, each class session is a precious educational gift to be cherished and utilized in the shaping of your bright, bright future. Unofficially, there’s a little more room for debate.
When should you skip class?
Of course, officially the answer is never. Officially, each class session is a precious educational gift to be cherished and utilized in the shaping of your bright, bright future.
Unofficially, there’s a little more room for debate.
There ARE times when the benefits of skipping class are greater than the negatives … but they don’t occur as often as your procrastinating, overtired mind will try to convince you they do. Here are a few examples of good reasons to skip class … and bad ones:
The academic big picture.
Okay, it’s Friday morning, and you’re got two pages left to write of the midterm essay that accounts for 50% of your Political Science grade. It’s due at noon, but in the meantime, you’ve got an economics class to attend. Picture telling your parents that yes, you got a C in Political Science… but you didn’t miss a single econ discussion! Chances are they wouldn’t be impressed. When there are bigger battles to be fought, you can temporarily put attendance on the back burner.
Of course, the corollary to this advice is “Don’t put yourself in this kind of situation.” If you’d skipped re-watching a few episodes of South Park over the weekend, you could have avoided the whole dilemma.
At college, you’ll spend your days in an ever-cycling pattern of “you’re about to get a cold, you have a cold, you just got over a cold.” C’est la vie.
But if you’re really sick — flu, strep, stomach bug — please don’t come to class.
Your pounding headache isn’t going to encourage mental retention and your classmates will die a little bit inside every time you hack a phlegmy, germy cough into their atmosphere. Give yourself a day or two to improve (…or at least be less contagious) before you set yourself on the world again.
Sometimes, there are more important things at stake than your perfect attendance record. If something urgent comes up while education is in session, go for it.
You’ll never look back on visiting your best friend in the hospital after an accident and think, “Man, I wish I’d gone to my geology class instead.”
Similarly, it’s okay to take the occasional day off for Important Life Experiences. Unless you have a professor who hates families, class on Wednesday shouldn’t prevent you from going home for Thanksgiving.
And if J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates or the president comes to speak on campus but it’s a conflict with one of your classes … do I even need to finish this sentence?
This one should be a bit of a no-brainer … except maybe on exam days.
Getting a job isn’t the whole point of going to college, but it’s certainly one of the major end goals.
If your professors grumble (no one likes to feel unimportant or ignored), gently remind them that the job you’re interviewing for is your opportunity to put all their wise teachings to good use.
Bad Reason #1: Didn’t do the work
Sitting in a discussion class for which you haven’t done the readings is nerve-wracking, confusing and often embarrassing. So why go at all?
First, the stupider you feel when you’re unprepared, the more likely you are to prepare next time. And second, just because you missed your chance to learn from the readings (on time, anyway) doesn’t mean you should miss out on everything you can learn in class.
Bad Reason #2: Tired
Sick is one thing, tired is another.
As a college student, you’ll always be tired — sleeping in probably won’t make a dent in your exhaustion. On the other hand, falling behind is likely to rob you of even more sleep later on. So drag yourself out of bed — and consider the crazy (completely insane) idea of going to bed a bit earlier.
Bad Reason #3: Don’t feel like it
Yes, sometimes classes can be annoying, pointless and unhelpful and you just don’t feel like going. Every time you give yourself permission to skip class “just because,” you’re paving the way for another exception, and another and another.
And while one or two skips might not matter, you’ll eventually run into problems: Not knowing how to do an assignment. Not knowing there IS an assignment — etc. (And of course, being too embarrassed by frequent absences to ask the professor for help.)
Perfect attendance isn’t necessary for a successful college career. But think of it this way: eventually “classes” will become “a job.” If your reason for skipping class wouldn’t be good enough for skipping work … go to class, and avoid being failed OR fired in the future.
Katherine Kendig, a Dartmouth College graduate, fell in love with writing at the tender age of seven and has been in a committed relationship with the passion ever since. Her oeuvre includes award-winning screenplays and fiction as well as professionally-commended creative nonfiction, a smattering of poetry, and a paper on character education programs. When not writing, Katherine helps aspiring college applicants with her fellow mentors at Admissionado, a boutique admissions consulting company that specializes in helping aspiring students navigate the undergraduate and graduate admissions process.
academics, admissionado, Katherine Kenig, skipping class, CAMPUS LIFE
Attending ClassIt is absolutely vital that you attend class regularly. Missing a class should be a rare occurrence; something that happens at most once or twice a semester. If you miss class more than this, it will interfere with your learning and have a negative affect your performance and your grade.
A prerequisite to success in any in any endeavor is "showing up", and classes are no exception. If you're not showing up to class, you're forfeiting every opportunity provided to you in the classroom.
BenefitsGoing to class does far more than simply giving you credit for attendance. Class attendance facilitates learning in a variety of ways, and here are just a few:
- Lectures and classes supplement reading assignments. Class gives you another perspective on the material besides just the textbook. Even if you think you already understand the material well, classes always adds something new. The instructor may go over examples or applications you haven't seen, concepts in class may be presented in a different way than in the text, and student questions and discussion may elaborate on the material or provide new insights.
- Professors often use questions or class discussion to enhance critical thinking skills. Attending class can be an opportunity for you to engage the material with the guidance of the professor and the help of your classmates. A professor may pose a question or lead a discussion in class that directs you to make connections between concepts and helps you to think about the material in new ways.
- If you pay attention in class, you may be surprised by how much you can cut your study time later on. No textbook can explain something to you like another person can. Even if professors seem as though they are just going through the material in the book, there will always be added clarification and insights that you can discover in class. Time in class is one to two hours during which you are actively thinking about the material and practicing it.
- Your professor will emphasize the important concepts, giving you a better idea of what is important and what you should focus on. The professor is an expert on the material, and they design their lectures to organize the main ideas and extract the important concepts. Attending class and taking good notes can help you to put the ideas together and focus on what is important.
- Some professors are not very textbook oriented. Their lectures may be very different from the way the textbook presents the material, and class may be used to convey the professor's own viewpoints and perspectives. In a class like this, test questions will more than likely be based on lecture notes rather than the text, so attending class and taking good notes will be one of your best preparations for exams.
- Classes give you more interaction with the professor and other students in the class. Attending and participating in class shows the professor that you are a serious student who is taking responsibility for your education and making an effort to learn. This increases your interaction with faculty members, and raises the likelihood of finding mentors and roll models who can help guide you in your academic, career, and personal development. In addition, class time is a chance to meet and interact with other students in your class. This can help you to form study groups or meet other students in your major.
- Taking your own notes during a class is more useful than getting a copy of someone else's notes (even the instructor's). In a recent sstudy, only 8% of students reported that getting class notes from a missed class is as useful as attending class. Additionally, this 8% who thought borrowed notes were as good as going to class had significantly lower reported grade point averages than those who valued class attendance more. The act of attending class and writing down your own notes will help you to learn the material and solidify your understanding in a way that is much more effective than when you miss class and read someone else's notes.
Your ResponsibilitiesOccasionally, you may have to miss a class due to illness or an important obligation. However, this should be a very rare occurrence. You should not miss class just because you don't want to go or there is something else you would rather do. Realize that going to class is the default expectation --- it is not a decision that needs to be made. In addition:
Some students mistakenly think this is prioritizing; in reality it is nothing more than poor time management. Doing work for one class should not be done at the expense of another course. This will only hurt your overall academic career and not benefit you in any way.
If you do miss class, get the notes from a classmate rather than ask your professor for a copy of theirs. Professors are busy, and often don't have time to do extra work each time a student misses a class. It is your responsibility to attend class, and your responsibility to get get caught up on the rare occasions you are absent.
There is a strong correlation between the number of absences a student has and their final course grade. Skipping class can be a fast track to poor performance, increased stress and anxiety, a lower GPA, and even dropping out of school. It is something you should avoid at all costs.