Can Skipping Class Get You in Trouble? What to Do Before & After

Last Updated on August 29, 2021 by David Shaw

student using laptop on couch

Skipping classes in college is a different story compared to high school, but so are the circumstances. While universities and lecturers often made it clear that attendance in class is mandatory, students often wonder what will happen if they miss or skipped a class in college. So what really happens if you skip classes, and what should you do about it?

The most logical thing you should do is catch up with lecture notes from your classmates right before attending the next lecture. If you’re going to miss a quiz or exam day, make sure to inform your professor at least a week earlier which allows them to accommodate your schedule. When in doubt, always email your lecturer.

Sometimes emergencies or something important might come up between your schedules causing you will miss or skip certain classes, and most lecturers understand that. So let’s discuss and go through a few basic things to do if you missed or skipped a class in college.

Check if Your Attendance Will Affect Your Grades or Class

seats in lecture hall

Let’s be real, the unspoken rule is that not all classes in college require mandatory attendance – especially the larger lecture-based classes. Lecturers who conduct classes in halls that have 100 or more students simply won’t have the time to worry about your attendance other than delivering their lectures on schedule.

However, the opposite would be true for smaller classes that have group assignments that require active participation by regularly attending lectures. For classes that have group assignments, attendance should be deemed as necessary in another way, simply because it relies heavily on peer participation to allow the ability of other students to learn.

For instance, a liberal arts class like public speaking typically requires students to incorporate the practice of communicating, collaborating, critical thinking into group projects. Obviously, skipping these classes will greatly impact the learning of others all well as the progress of the class.

Attendance Might Be Less Important for Stem Classes

As for most STEM classes like Physics, Maths, Biology, Chemistry where self-repetition and practice is the more practical approach to learn, it wouldn’t be necessary to attend all the lectures if you’re ahead of the lectures. However, it is worth noting that all lecturers conduct their classes differently, so always check to see if you’re attendance will affect the learning of others or disrupt the lecture before you decide to skip classes.

Hence, it is helpful to pay attention to whether certain classes have a small or large capacity, and see if attendance plays a role in the grading and learning of students based on their involvement and attendance in class.

Steps You Should Take To Make Up for Absents

girl studying

College semesters typically only have 10-15 weeks of class, and missing one or a few classes means could easily mean you’re missing out on a few weeks of lecture materials. Don’t shrug things off easily as there might be hidden consequences later down the semester.

Anytime you’re going to be absent for a class, there are few things you should do immediately to ensure you don’t fall behind or disrupt the overall progress of class both for you and others.

1. Email Your Professor

Emailing your professor to explain or notify them of your absence can be the simplest yet effective act of courtesy to show towards your professor. Regardless if you’re skipping class due to an emergency or feel unwell, always write a follow-up email to inform your lecturers about your absence. Lecturers understand that people can have a bad day, so be honest, respectful, and frank in your email. This way, small requests or negotiations can still have room on the table for consideration.

A simple guide on what a follow-up email should include:

  • Appropriate and simple email title
  • Proper greeting
  • Exaplanations straight to the point
  • Avoid providing uncessary excuses
  • Don’t suggest any self-centred requests to accomodate your schedule
  • Your name or with student ID

Sample follow-up email of absence:

absence follow-up email example

2. Get the Contact Information of a Classmate

Lecturers in college usually won’t accommodate absentees by providing them with lecture notes or schedule changes. In these circumstances, having a classmate who can provide you lecture notes, inform you about in-class assignments, extra credit opportunities, and update you for any course schedule changes which professors won’t otherwise always remind students through email will keep you away from trouble.

3. Refer and Pay Close Attention Course Calendar Schedule

This step to crucial to ensure you won’t risk getting a failed grade by failing to show up for important exams or quizzes. If you’re going to skip or will have to miss certain classes, make sure it is not an important day where tests are held. Sometimes we can easily forget important dates if we have a busy schedule, but if that ever happens, always inform your professor ahead of time. Unless you can’t present official documents that can prove you cant be attending class on that day, you better believe you will show up for a class that day.

4. Review the Lecture Content Yourself to Keep Up With the Next Lecture.

Typically, a new topic is expected to be introduced and covered in every lecture. If you’re gonna miss a class that covers a new or tough topic, make sure you’re keeping up any materials you’ve missed on your own. In the event of facing pop quizzes or extra credit opportunities in future lectures, you’re less likely to risk losing those valuable grade points.

Never Skip Exam Days Without a Plan

Skipping an exam day is more complicated than you think, and for whatever reason you need to want to skip an exam day, you should do certain things before you skip it, and not after. Some students want the exam delayed because they’re unprepared, but before doing so, you must inform your professor at least a week ahead with proof of official documents that show you’re not available to show up for class.

Lecturers seldom recreate a midterm just to accommodate a few students who are absent, they will rather let you take it early or later within the semester. With prior notice, they will make arrangements to either let you take exams earlier to take an exam during their office hours. Unless the lowest midterm paper will be dropped, you’ll be fine with skipping an exam day since the missed exam will be dropped by default as the lowest score.

Things You Should Know Before Skipping Classes

Lecturers typically don’t appreciate the act of students skipping classes unless if they explicitly make it clear that they wouldn’t mind about your attendance for lectures. I once had a Calculus teacher who made it clear that he was absolutely cool and unbothered about students skipping classes. His only criteria were to show up for exams and quizzes and made sure you gave full attention if you wish to attend lectures.

However, one student was vehemently criticized by the professor when he challenged for partial credits for one of his midterm paper. The rationale behind the lecturer’s action was because the student rarely attended lectures, showed no improvement from previous assignments, and didn’t show good classroom etiquette throughout the semester.

Had it been the case if the student participated more in lectures, regularly involves himself with class materials by emailing the professor with questions, he could’ve simply turned the situation in his favor if he established a good impression for the lecturer.

The takeaway is that even if you feel you can skip classes just because the university won’t penalize you, there are certain unstated boundaries you shouldn’t cross to make sure you get through the semester smoothly.

Don’t Take Advantage of Your Professor’s Kindness

If your professor does not publicly call students out for always skipping classes, don’t take it lightly as if you’ll get away with it completely. If you’re someone frequently skipping classes, don’t raise one-sided requests that would only benefit you at the expense of your professor’s effort. Lastly, don’t ever disrespect your lecturer by walking out halfway through lectures, as you will leave very bad impressions on them.

– Show That You’re Improving in the Class

If you did badly on tests as a result of skipping classes and need sympathy points from your lecturer to bump up your letter grade, you should at least prove that you’re deserving of their compassion. If you’re showing improvements or good performance in tests, your professor might probably grant your small requests instead of giving you the cold shoulder.

Remember, negotiations for minor grades changes are always easier if you show improvements or exhibit good performance in class. So make sure you’ve been consistently putting in effort even if you’ve missed several lectures throughout the semester.

Do It if You’re Really Good at the Subject

Honestly, most college professors wouldn’t care if you’re always skipping classes, especially for introductory-level classes. If you’re good at the subject or may have learned the materials before, you’ll be fine as long as you don’t hinder the progression of class lectures and are doing well in exams.

Unless you’re genuinely falling behind the class, losing interest, or simply not in the best mental health to commit to classes, then you should really think about withdrawing from the class. To know whether should be withdrawing or failing a class, check out this article to help you decide better.

Related Questions

Will lecturers drop students from their classes for being absent? College lecturers typically don’t drop students from their class if they’re often absent from their class. Instead, lecturers typically only drop students who don’t show up for a class during the first few classes of the semester or quarter to add in students who wish to enroll in the class.

Can professors penalize students for too many absents? In university, professors very rarely penalize students by deducting points for too many absents. If a student often skips or misses class, they would usually exhibit poor performance in class or tests, so there is actually no need for professors to penalize students for being absent in class.

David Shaw

I enjoy blogging about the college experience, teaching people how to navigate and hack their way through college. I also enjoy promoting financial literacy among young individuals.

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