When I was in high school, I would never dream of skipping class. In fact, if there was a chance I’d have to miss a day of school for any reason, I’d get upset and cry because God forbid I didn’t get my perfect attendance award at the end of the year. I’m not super proud of the fact that I’ve skipped some college classes before, but I don’t regret the instances when I did. In college, you’ll likely find yourself faced with the decision of whether or not to skip a class, and sometimes that decision is really tough, especially if you’re a nerd like me and the mere thought of missing a day’s worth of lecture notes gives you heart palpitations.
But here are two things no one tells you about skipping class in college: First, it’s extremely easy to skip class. Your professors don’t patrol the hallways like your high school teachers do, and your parents aren’t making sure you leave your dorm room. You’d have to just be really unlucky to skip your 8a.m. bio lecture and then run into your professor on campus later in the day. Second, skipping class is a skill. Throwing your hands up and saying “I don’t feel like going to class today so I’m not gonna go” is too easy. So to help you out, I’ve basically compiled all my class-skipping advice and things you should consider right here in this one blog post.
Skip class if…
1. You’re really sick.
Honestly, if you’re coughing up a lung and running a fever, don’t hold out hope that a dash of chicken soup will help you power through a day of long lectures and pop quizzes. Do yourself a favor and just stay home or stay in your dorm room so you can recover quicker. Check out my post on how to avoid getting sick in college for some tips because catching a cold is NOT fun.
2. You feel mentally drained or exhausted.
We’ll all likely feel this way at some point, and it’s important to note that if you feel this way it’s okay to miss class to recuperate. This is especially important if you’ve been running around all day. Use the hour that you’re skipping class to take a nap or do something for you to unwind.
3. You have an important interview or meeting during class time that couldn’t be rescheduled.
Do you want a summer internship or brownie points from the professor? If I had to choose one, I’d take the internship without hesitation. But, you can actually have both in this situation. If you have to skip class for an interview for a position, let your professor know ahead of time if it’s a really small class and your absence will be noticeable.
4. You haven’t used any free skips yet.
Some professors will allow you to skip up to three classes without your grade being penalized. I’m not saying you should become skip-happy and use all your free skips for no good reason. But if you have a few weeks of class left and you feel like you’re going to need to skip class at some point, you have these freebies as a cushion.
5. You will definitely drop the class within the next week.
Only skip if you are 110% certain that you will never walk into the classroom again after a week. No need to waste time on it anymore. I actually did this for one class this past semester. I was actually on the waiting list for the class, but I still attended the first week because not going to the class even though you’re waitlisted is actually a bad idea. After that first week, I decided that it was just too much for me and I was already falling behind, so I decided that I can and will drop the class and transfer into a completely different one. I didn’t attend the next class and I dropped it the following day and moved on with my life.
Don’t skip class if…
1. The weather is bad.
Boo-hoo, it’s raining outside and you hate walking in the rain. You poor thing. Throw on your rainboots and grab an umbrella. If the weather in your area is bad enough, your class would be cancelled. If you’re a commuter and you don’t think you can make it to class safely from home, that’s a different story.
2. The weather is really nice outside.
I know a lot of people love cutting class to soak up the sun, but fight every urge to do this. You’ll have your chance to be in the sunshine eventually. Just try to get through the next hour and a half of class without thinking about sunbathing in the grass.
3. You have an exam or presentation you’re unprepared for.
A lot of colleges don’t allow you to make up exams, so getting a 50% is better than getting a zero. If you’re unprepared for your presentation, email your professor in advanced to let them know so they can plan material for the day or ask another student to present, and don’t just not show up. It’s way worse if you inconvenience your professor in this situation.
4. You hate waking up early.
Tough turtles. Take a cold shower, have a cup of coffee, and get your ass out the door. Avoid taking early morning classes next semester. Take a look at my post on creating the perfect class schedule for tips. And if enrollment stresses you out, read my post on how you can make class enrollment less hectic.
5. There’s a class discussion and you didn’t do the reading.
I know you may be thinking that there’s no way you’d be able to contribute if you didn’t read, but here’s a pro tip for that: Read whatever you can right before the class begins — if you can get just one page in, that’s fine. And just participate in the very beginning before everyone really delves into other parts of the reading. Boom. You give the illusion that you actually read when you didn’t. Another tip is asking a question in response to someone’s statement so you seem engaged, but be careful with this because you may be asked to give your own stance on the reading!
Extra pro tip: If the professor asks who didn’t do the reading, be honest and raise your hand. If they call on you randomly and you weren’t honest, you’re screwed.
6. You may be failing the class.
Don’t torture yourself by missing out on opportunities to learn and help your grade. Going to class will allow you to ask any questions and get help from peers before it’s too late. Plus, if your grade in class is attendance based, DON’T throw away those points! It’s better to attend and tell the professor that you’re struggling than to not go and have to figure it out on your own later.
7. You’ve already used up a lot of free skips.
Free skips are valuable in college and shouldn’t be wasted. If you’ve used up two out of the three and you still have two months of school left, I’d save the last one for an emergency if I were you.
8. You’re convinced you can do the material in your sleep.
If that’s the case, you should use class time to further your knowledge by asking advanced questions or asking the professor to explore something related to the class that you’d like to learn more about. Plus, no one likes a cocky know-it-all.
9. Your class is starting a new chapter/topic.
Not being in class for fresh material is one of the worst things you could do. You’ll fall behind and it’ll be harder to take in next class’s lesson if you weren’t here for the intro.
10. You plan to ask the professor for a letter of recommendation.
Definitely don’t skip! You need as many brownie points as you can, and you need to show that you’re committed to the class.
What to do if you plan on skipping class
1. Check the syllabus for the attendance policy.
I mentioned before that some professors give you free skips. If you don’t remember if that’s a thing for your class, always check the syllabus. The syllabus will also tell you if there are any days when class isn’t being held, so you get a free skip anyway!
2. Email the professor ahead of time.
And if necessary, email them after class instead. Like, if you were sick and used the time to rest, when you wake up, tell the professor that you were ill and ask if there are any resources you could use to catch up on what you missed. They’ll love that you’re taking responsibility and taking their class seriously, and they’d be more willing to help you themselves.
3. Make sure someone in your class can fill you in.
If you have a friend in the class who takes great notes, ask if you can borrow them for a night, or ask for a recap of the class. If you don’t have a friend in the class, this is a great reason to start getting to know the cutie who sits behind you.
4. Don’t make up bull crap excuses.
Never pretend you were in a car accident or you were ill. If you have to email your professor to give an excuse, don’t be too specific about your situation, or else they may think you’re lying!
5. Use your skipped class time wisely.
Don’t skip class so you can watch the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Use the time that you would’ve been in class to get ahead or catch up on the homework assignments, study for an upcoming exam, or do an assignment you know you won’t have time to do the next day.
What are your tips for smartly skipping class?
What has been your favorite and least favorite classes so far? Let me know!