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Freshman year is mostly spent learning how to operate this thing we call college. For most of us, it’s the first time we’re fully responsible for our own schedules and don’t have anyone reminding us to get somewhere on time or go to class.

Missing your first class can feel like a big deal, especially for those of us who take attendance pretty seriously. The good news is that missing a class isn’t the end of the world. Unlike in high school, when your parents might have found out about it, in college, missing a class mostly just affects you.

Here’s what to do when you miss a class in college.

When to email your professor

Unless you missed an exam, assignment, or quiz, there’s usually no reason to email your professor. Chances are your reason for missing class isn’t going to excuse the absence (unless you have a doctor’s note), so your email will likely just take away from more important emails in their inbox.

However, if you’re in a class that relies heavily on attendance as part of your grade, and you missed for a reason that will be excused, sending them a quick note won’t hurt. If you do decide to email them, be apologetic, send them your documentation, and leave it at that. 

Additionally, if you’re in a large lecture class and didn’t miss anything important, it’s not likely that your attendance was noticed. Smaller seminar classes, on the other hand, might require a quick note to your professor. 

Unlike high school, attendance isn’t likely to get you in trouble, unless of course, you missed something important in class. 

Know your attendance policy

As we mentioned before, each professor treats attendance differently. Before sleeping in or going to the doctor, you might want to check that your grade isn’t going to suffer because you missed one class. 

Double-check the policy, see if your professor provides any instructions absences and be sure to follow directions. Sometimes missing a class is unavoidable. Just make sure you do what you can to follow the rules set by your instructor. 

Ask to borrow notes

One of the reasons it’s a good idea to get to know the students around you in class is so you can borrow their notes when you’re absent.

Lectures provide students access to information that might be essential to passing exams and quizzes. If you miss a class and don’t get those notes, you could seriously risk your grade.

Ask a fellow student if you can borrow their notes, take a few quick photos of them, and then write them up yourself. That way, you have access to the information you missed when it comes time to study for exams. 

Download the lecture slides

Some teachers are kind enough to upload their lecture slides after class. If this is the case with your professor, make sure you download the slides and take a look at what was highlighted in class.

The slides can help put the notes you borrowed into context, making it easier for you to study when the time comes. 

Give your professor a heads up

If you’re sick and know you’re going to be missing more than one class, or have an unavoidable obligation like a court date, email your professor in advance. Let them know why you’re missing, apologize for doing so, and provide any follow-up documentation that you might have.

While you have them, ask if you’re able to access the lecture slides or reading materials that you’ll be missing. If you have a good reason for your absence and give them a heads up, there’s a chance they’ll do their best to keep you in the loop. 

Missing class in college is a whole different ball game than in high school. You’re now responsible for your own success, and if you miss class and fall behind, the only person you can blame is yourself. 

Whatever the reason for your absence, do your best to get the information you need to stay on track and ready to take on your exams when the time comes.

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.