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You Missed Class: What Do You Do?

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Stressed Student by CollegeDegrees360 / Flickr

Regardless of how good a student you are, how detail-oriented, hard working, or diligent, you can be certain that you will miss a class at some point in your academic career. And likely many more than one. There are many reasons for missing classes, ranging from illness, emergencies, and bereavement, to hang overs and a desire to sleep in. Why you missed class matters - to you. If it was for irresponsible reasons, your absence signals that you need to take a closer look at your obligations and priorities.

What do you do after missing class? Do you just show up at the next class and start fresh? What about material that you've missed? Do you talk to professors? Here are 7 things that you can do when you're absent (before and afterwards)

1 . Understand that some faculty, especially graduate faculty, take offense at absences for any reason. Period. They might be a bit more warm to students who were gravely ill, but don't count on it. And don't take it personally. At the same time, some faculty don't want a reason for your absence. Try to determine where your prof stands and let that guide your behavior.

2. Be aware of attendance, late work, and make-up policies. This information should be listed in your course syllabus. Some faculty do not accept late work or offer make-up exams, regardless of the reason. Others offer opportunities to make up for lost work, but have very strict policies about when they will accept make-up work. Read the syllabus to ensure that you don't miss any opportunities.

3. Ideally, email your professor before class. If you're ill or have an emergency, try to send an email to inform the professor that you cannot attend class and, if you wish, provide an excuse. Be professional - offer a concise explanation without going into personal details. Ask whether you may stop by his or her office during office hours to pick up any handouts. If possible, hand in assignments beforehand, by email (and offer to hand in a hard copy when you're back on campus, but an emailed assignment shows that it's completed on time).

4. If you cannot email before class, do so afterwards.

5. Never ask if you "missed anything important." Most faculty feel that class time itself is important. This is a surefire way to make a professor's eyes roll (maybe inwardly, at least!)

6. Do not ask the professor to "go over what you missed." The professor lectured and discussed the material in class and likely will not do it for you now. Instead, demonstrate that you care and are willing to try by reading the course material and handouts, and then ask questions and seek help for the material that you don't understand. This is a more productive use of your (and the professor's) time. It also demonstrates initiative.

7. Turn to your classmates for information about what happened in class and ask that they share their notes. Be sure to read more than one students' notes because students have different perspectives and might miss some points. Read notes from several students and you're more likely to get a complete picture of what happened in class.

Don't let a missed class damage your relationship with your professor - or your standing in class.

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