Ask a Professor: How to miss a class and still make the grade

Classroom miss
Give only the information necessary when you know you’re going to miss a class.

During your semester, you will inevitably miss a class or two — hopefully not more! The way you deal with missing your classes will speak to your character as a student, as well as impact your final grade in many cases, either directly or indirectly.

Here is my advice to make sure those days you just can’t make it don’t result in not making the grade.

Before you reach out

1. Read the syllabus
Remember that document that your professor went over during the first class while you were only half-listening? Yep. That’s where you’ll find the professor’s policy on missed classes, as well as how it might impact your grade. It will also have an outline of what was going on during the class that you missed, so head there when your alarm simply didn’t go off or you have that trusty case of “food poisoning.”

2. Secure proper documentation
Often, your reason for missing class will be legitimate, but be sure you can provide proper documentation. Your professors have seen it before: After a suspicious number of grandparents “die” right around the time major assignments are due, they know to require evidence of your reasons for missing class. This means anything from an official notice from the university excusing your absence to a police report or insurance claim.

3. Ask around
After dutifully checking the syllabus, move on to checking whatever learning management system your professor and school use, like Blackboard, Canvas or Moodle. Often, professors will post the homework or class notes there, to be accessed by all members of your class. Next, talk to classmates and get the notes or discuss what happened while you were out. Only once you have done your best to get caught up should you contact the professor with specific questions regarding what you missed.

Some things to avoid when following up with your professor

1. Don’t ask, “Did I miss anything important?”
The short answer here is that of course you missed something important. It might not seem like it, but a typical 15-week, three-hours-per-week course is not a lot of time, and professors design their courses to maximize the learning that can take place. Classes aren’t a serialized television series or a sports game where there are lulls in the narrative or action; the course you’re taking has clear outcomes and goals that each class is meant to achieve.

2. Don’t ask, “Could you tell me everything that I missed?”
You missed the class, therefore it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to find out what you missed before asking the professor. Many professors hold class without lectures and prefer to engage in class discussion or in-class work. An email requesting a professor re-hash the class for you probably won’t be a productive endeavor.

3. Don’t ask, “Is it okay if I miss class for __ reason?”
Sometimes you know in advance that you will need to miss class — that happens. Asking if you can miss class if you’re already going to miss it anyway won’t endear you to any professor because it won’t make a bit of difference whether he or she says no. If you have a legitimate excuse, then it doesn’t matter what the professor says. If you do not have a legitimate excuse, asking permission uses up the time and resources of your professor without reason.

4. Don’t overshare
There is no need for a blow-by-blow account of your gallbladder surgery or the intimate details of the family dynamics keeping you from attending class. Keep your reasons simple and on a need-to-know basis.

5. Don’t let reasons become excuses
Missing one class because your alarm didn’t go off is one thing; missing half a semester for the same reason is entirely different. Unexpected things will always come to pass, but as a student there are things you can control; or rather, there are things that often get out of control. Control the things you can so that when legitimate reasons for missing a class come up, you are in a position that it won’t matter as much.

Finally, here’s a sample email to send to your professor when you miss a class.

Dear Professor X,

I am in your [insert class name and time] and I will be missing this [day of the week]‘s class on [insert topic here – it will say in the syllabus]. I will have proper documentation that I can show you during the following class OR I understand that this will impact my grade in [insert consequence – again, it will be in the syllabus]. I have already spoken with [name of classmate] about getting his/her notes, and I will be sure to do the reading/homework as well. I will also come and talk to you during your office hours about any specific questions about the content of the reading or homework.

Thank you,
Student



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…