Missing class in college is one of the most understated plights students face. It’s one of the first tests of personal responsibility faced in adulthood, a daily debate we can have with ourselves. All in all, missing class is a major part of the college experience most of us would rather avoid. So, how do you manage missing class? What makes an absence excused? Here’s everything you need to know about missing class in college.
Types of Absences
Planned absences are pre-determined and scheduled before you’re going to be absent. Professors should be informed of any planned absences as soon as possible and arrangements need to be made by the student for any missing work. Planned absences include appointments, trips, and religious holidays. Planned absences tend to be excused, but only if the student obtains and submits a note of excuse or the instructor excuses the absence. It’s best to check your university-wide rules on absences to determine if an absence will be excused.
Some absences are not planned. You might find yourself sick or in some other unforeseen situation that causes you to miss class. Unexpected absences include illness or sick leave, death of family or household members, and other unexpected circumstances. Unexpected absences may be excused or unexcused depending on the reason for your absence and whether or not your professor will excuse the absence. If you have a doctor’s note or other justification, your absence will be considered excused. In addition to university-wide rules, it’s a good rule of thumb to review any existing course handbooks for absence policies.
Excused and Unexcused Absences
Absences are typically only excused if you have a note or another valid form of verification AND turn it into your professor within a week of your absence. If you do not have an excuse or the excuse is not submitted by the required date, your absence will not be excused. Going to the doctor, meeting with advisors, or going on school-related trips without a note or verification will result in an unexcused absence.
Know that you have a limited number of allowed unexcused absences. This number can be set by your instructor or your school, and is usually 4-7. Use all of your allowed unexcused absences and any unexcused absence afterwards will count against you. After a student is considered truant they may be penalized with a grade deduction, academic probation, or an automatic fail.
What should you know about missing class?
To make the best choices for your education you should be aware of several different factors that affect your options and decision making.
Your School’s Rules
Every school has a list of rules and procedures for student absences. While attending college you should know your school’s policy for absences, excused and unexcused. These rules will be your guide for excusing absences, determining what excuses are “valid,” and knowing how unexcused absences will affect you. Instructors may provide these rules in their syllabi, but they are also available in the student handbook and on your school’s website.
Valid Excuses for Being Absent
All colleges have a list of “valid” reasons for absences created by the Senate in the University Senate Rules (USR). As of the most recent revision, the USR 2019-20, the list is as follows:
- Significant illness of the student, household member, or immediate family member, including hospitalization
- Death of immediate family member or household member
- Religious Holidays
- Interviews for full-time job opportunities after graduation and for graduate or professional school
- Any other circumstances the Instructor finds reasonable cause for absence.
There are other reasons a student might be excused to miss class, but they are tentative and left up to the instructor to agree to. Tentative excuses include:
- School Events
- School Trips (Including trips for student organizations, class trips, and trips for athletic events)
- Educational opportunities agreed upon by your professor
If you have a disability, health issue, or another reason you might miss class often, contact the Disability Resource Center, Student Support Services, or your academic advisor. One of them should be able to help you with aid and accommodations to ensure your success. When registered with the Disability Resource Center, absences may not be counted against you.
You should be aware of your grades and the number of absences you have at all times. Both are important factors in determining whether or not you should miss class. Grades are heavily dependent on attendance, so consider your grade when deciding whether or not to miss class. If you are approaching or have achieved 4-7 unexcused absences, it is unwise to miss another day of class.
What should you do if you miss class?
If you are absent from class, whether the absence is excused or unexcused, there are still steps you as a student are responsible for. While not required, it is wise to do what you can to ensure you do not fall behind in your classes. So, what should you do to make up for an absence?
Email Your Professors
Notify your professors of any upcoming absences. While it is best to email your professors early, unforeseen circumstances can arise. If you find yourself unable to attend class, let your professor know you will be absent as soon as possible, even if it’s an hour before class. Teachers are more receptive to students who give notice and are able to better help you when they are informed.
When emailing your instructor, use your student email. Professors are less likely to respond to emails sent from personal addresses and might not get back to you or even see your message. Keep your email brief and professional. Make them aware of the situation without rambling and oversharing, and ask them how they would like you to make up for missing class.
TIP: Need to email your professor but don’t know where to start? Check out HelpProfessor’s article, “ How to Email a Professor about not Attending Class (13 Tips + Sample)”
Obtain An Excuse
If you can, get a note or other valid excuse to give to your instructor. Any doctor’s office should be able to provide you with a note after an appointment, which will be accepted and filed by your professor. Any school-related trip can be excused by receiving permission from your professor to miss class, and other reasons you missed class can be discussed for possible approval.
Remember to turn in your excuse within one week of the absence to be excused. After a week, excuses are no longer accepted.
Don’t Make A Habit of It
There isn’t a lot of room to negotiate. Being absent isn’t something you want to make a habit of. Truancy can result in serious academic consequences, like marks against your grade or gaining you an automatic “E” (the college equivalent of a failing grade). If you must be absent, try to get an excuse following your school’s absence policy.
Make Up Your Work
Collect the work you have or will miss. Your professors will be able to provide you with the work and can even give you an extension on assignments. While it seems scary to ask professors for missing assignments, extensions, and general help, most of the time they are willing to help you. Most importantly, be proactive to stay ahead and avoid the pitfalls that can come from missing synchronous learning.
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