What to Do If You Miss Class in College

What to Do If You Miss Class in College

In contrast to high school, missing a class in college can often feel like no big deal. It's rare for college professors to take attendance, and if you're only one student out of hundreds in a large lecture hall, you might feel like no one noticed your absence. So what -- if anything -- do you need to do if you miss class in college?

Contact Your Professor

Consider emailing or calling the professor. You don't always have to let your professor know if you missed class, but you should at least think carefully about whether or not you need to say something. If you missed one relatively uneventful lecture in a class with hundreds of people, you might not need to say something. But if you missed a small seminar class, definitely touch base with your professor. A quick message apologizing for missing class because you had the flu, for instance, should work. Similarly, if you missed a major exam or a deadline for turning in an assignment, you'll need to touch base with your professor as soon as possible. Note: If you do miss class, don't mention why if your reason was ridiculous ("I was still recovering from my fraternity party this weekend!") and don't ask if you missed anything important. Of course, you missed important things, and implying otherwise will just insult your professor.

Talk to Classmates

Check in with your classmates about what material you missed. Don't assume you know what happened in class, regardless of how previous class sessions have gone. For all you know, your professor mentioned that the midterm has been moved up by a week, and your friends won't remember to tell you this key detail until (and unless) you ask. Perhaps people were assigned small study groups and you need to know which one you now belong to. Perhaps a comment was made about some material that will be covered on an upcoming exam. Perhaps the professor announced a change in office hours or when the final exam will take place. Knowing what content was scheduled to be covered in class is not the same as knowing what actually happened.

Keep Your Professor in the Loop

Let your professor know if you expect to miss class again sometime soon. If, for example, you have a family emergency to deal with, let your professor know what's going on. You don't need to go into too much detail, but you can (and should) mention the reason for your absence. Letting your professor know that a family member passed away and that you'll be gone the rest of the week to travel home for the funeral is a smart and respectful message to send along. If you're in a small class or lecture, your professor might plan their class activities differently knowing that one (or more) students will be absent on a certain day. Additionally, if you have something going on that requires more than an absence or two, you'll want to let your professor (and dean of students) know in case you start to fall behind on your coursework. Letting your professor know why you're missing class so much can help you work together to find a solution; leaving a professor out of the loop about your class absences will only further complicate your situation. If you do miss class, just be smart about communicating when necessary and setting yourself up for a successful rest of the semester as much as possible.