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11 Times You Should Never Feel Guilty For Skipping Class

  • Sean 

University or College life is often chaotic and filled with commitments. Inevitably, this results in times you should never feel guilty for skipping class.

While regular class attendance undeniably plays a vital role in solidifying one’s understanding of the material. In fact, there is a very clear proven correlation between class attendance and student performance. However sometimes lieft gets in the way.

There are times when skipping a class is justified and you should not feel guilty. Factors such as illness, family emergencies, or other unavoidable commitments can arise unexpectedly, making it necessary to prioritize other responsibilities temporarily.

When faced with situations that prevent attendance, it’s important to approach the matter proactively and responsibly. Prioritizing communication with professors or classmates to obtain any missed notes, lecture recordings, or assignments can help mitigate the negative impact of not being physically present in the class.

However, it is vital to note that missing classes should not become a habit or an excuse to neglect academic responsibilities. Consistency in attending classes will more than likely help you perform well in class.

11 Times You Should Never Feel Guilty for Skipping Class

1. Mental Health

Approximately 60% of college students meet the criteria for at least one mental health problem. I could quote more depressing statistics, but ultimately if you are reading this article, there is a good chance it’s about skipping class due to mental health.

Sometimes, the pressures of academic life can take a toll on our mental health. The COVID-19 university generation (I started university in 2020 and did a full year of online classes) probably has this worse than previous students as well. So what can be done?

Taking a day off to focus on self-care, relax, or seek the professional counseling offered at your university or college can be immensely beneficial. Ultimately your mental well-being should come before your academics. You should have your mental health in order to best pursue your academic goals.

2. Fatigue or Burnout

Sometimes when we go hard for a few weeks we start to get fatigued. I have definitely been there, especially in the later parts of the semester.

It can be acceptable to skip a class if you are feeling burnt out, as long as you don’t make a habit out of it. However, burnout is an underlying issue that you should focus on. In fact, taking a break may not be the solution. Burnout often stems from functioning in an unsustainable way.

Taking a break is helpful for feeling better in the short term. However, if you don’t solve it at the root, you will find yourself back in the same position in the future. Ultimately Burnout is a symptom and the root cause is something that needs to be addressed.

Dr. Justin Sung has a video on this topic that is extremely good. It’s definitely worth a watch if you are in this situation.

3. Extra Sleep

If you are considering skipping class for extra sleep it probably means your sleep schedule could use some work. However, in a pinch, it can be okay.

If you know that you won’t be able to function in class, it’s probably better to just get some extra sleep. Unless that class is really important (meaning it’s not just a lecture) or you have a quiz that day, skipping to catch up on sleep is probably a good idea. After all, you will be wasting your time by going to class if you are exhausted.

If your sleep scheudle needs some work, Iahve another article on the minimum sleep you need at unvierstiy were I demonstrate the importance of sleep how much you really need.

4. A Job Interview

Hand extending a printed resume to an interviewer during a job interview

Skipping class for a job interview is completely fine. After all, why are you at university to begin with? For most people, It’s so you can wave that piece of paper in the face of different companies so they can hire you.

The goal of being at university is to get a job, so skipping class for a job interview is completely justified. Just send an email to the professor explaining the situation and why you need to go to the interview. If they are a good professor they will understand.

If they are not happy about it or want to hold it against you (which is extremely unlikely), I would still go. You are an adult and can make your own choices at university. I would personally take a grade hit or have a professor dislike me, which in the grand scheme of things is really insignificant, to do a job interview at a company I want to work at. It’s a worthwhile trade.

I know not everyone will see it like that, but ultimately it’s your life, and you can make your own choices and accept any consequences that come along with them.

5. To Do homework or Study

Individual studying with an open notebook alongside an iPad on a desk

Skipping class to do homework or study comes down to a weighing of pros and cons. How important is the class and how important is it that the homework is done during that time?

  1. Importance of Class: Some lectures might cover fundamental concepts that are pivotal to understanding future topics. Missing these classes can make catching up more difficult. Alternatively, some lectures might be revision sessions or cover topics you’re already familiar with, making them less crucial.
  2. Importance of Homework: Not all homework is created equal. A small assignment that contributes a minuscule percentage to your final grade might be less important than a major project or paper that makes up a significant portion of your grade.

By skipping class to do homework you will gain valuable time to catch up. However, depending on the class you could miss out on new information, a participation grade (if your class has one), or develop a bad habit of doing this regularly.

Ultimately, skipping class as a once-off to do an important project can be justified, depending on the class and homework involved. However, skipping class on a regular basis to catch up indicates an underlying issue with your studying system or you are stretching yourself too thin.

6. A Doctor’s Appointment

This one is pretty cut and dry.

Good health is the bedrock of effective learning, and life in genral. Regular check-ups or addressing pressing health concerns can’t always align with out-of-class hours, espeically if you live in a country with socialized healthcare with long wait times (yay for Canada).

An untreated health issue can become a long-term impediment to learning, whereas missing one or two classes can usually be mitigated by revisiting the material or consulting with peers and the professor.

Just make sure to email your professor about your appointment as far in advance as possible.

Do you still need a doctors note to skip class?

I have never had a professor ask for a doctors note due to being sick and skipping class. I get the sense that after 2020 skipping class due to being sick become more accepted to some degree. Although I’m sure that varyies depending on your particular university.

For instance, this article on why Professprs Shouldn’t Require Doctors Notes shows that some professors are still strict on this policy. Ultimatley, you need to know your university.

However, In my experience even skipping lots of class without a given reason hasn’t prompted me to be contacted by a professor in any way.

7. Family Emergencies

Life is unpredictable. Emergencies, be it health-related or otherwise, can demand immediate attention. Family is an integral part of one’s support system, and being there in times of crisis is essential.

Being present during crucial moments not only underscores one’s responsibilities towards their family but also ensures they are mentally at peace when they return to class. Distractions or worries stemming from family emergencies can significantly impair one’s ability to focus and engage in class, making attendance ineffective.

8. Terrible Weather

Snow-covered street with cars parked on both sides, covered in fresh snowfall

For those living in regions prone to extreme weather conditions, such as parts of Canada, the environment can pose genuine safety risks. While institutions generally prioritize the safety of their students and staff, there might be instances where one feels it’s unsafe to commute even if the class isn’t officially canceled.

In this scenario, individual judgment plays a vital role. On the flip side, using mild weather disturbances as an excuse to skip classes regularly can lead to gaps in learning.

I live on a campus that often gets road closures during the winter (yay for Canada once again) so often classes are just canceled outright because of weather. However if they were not cancled, I definitely wouldn’t put my safety above attending some university class.

9. Jury Duty

Courtroom with a prominently displayed judge's bench, ready for judicial proceedings

This is would seem like the best reason of all to miss class because it is totally out of your control and you are required to be there.

However, you abviously can’t control when jury duty strikes, and it’s highly unlikely that it ever will strike. For example, in 2014 0.09 percent percent of U.S adults were called for jury duty and 0.02 percent ended up serving. So don’t count on jury duty to save you from class.

Jury duty actually ends up being more of a negative when it comes to skipping class if you think about it. It’s totally unpredictable and unlikely. Its even less likely that it will happen on a day where you happened to be indending to skip class. If it strikes it’s usually inconvenient and annyoing.

Why lying about jury duty is a terrible excuse to get out of class

I have heard that people will use jury duty as a made-up excuse to get out of things but this just isn’t smart at all. You are probably going to need to provide proof, which you don’t have (and forging a legal document seems like a terrible idea that you should never do).

On top of that, the professor probably knows the extremely low odds of you being called and in all likelihood gets this excuse every term.

They know its far more likely that a student would be lying to them rather than an actual instance of jury duty.

10. There Truly Is no Value in Going to Class

This one is undoubtedly the most controversial. But yes if there is truly no personal value in going to class, why should you bother going? Let me give an example.

Your professor is offering a class that has no value for other classes you will take in the future and you are taking this class purely for credit. On top of this, there is no final exam or requirement to memorize any of the material because they use other grading metrics like essays and assignments, etc. So the material isn’t tested or valuable for the future, and you aren’t interested in it at all.

If you are able to write those papers and assignments to a high standard without the help of the lecture, then I think it’s justified to skip class in a scenario like that and do something more productive.

You might think that a class like the one I have described is not common. But It really depends on what you are studying. Sure, you won’t find a lot of biology courses like this but there are many arts classes that are structured like this at my university.

11. Bad Traffic

Dense city traffic jam with vehicles bumper-to-bumper on a congested urban street.

Traffic congestion can be a significant barrier to class attendance. You might allocate lots of time for your commute, but unpredictable traffic conditions can introduce delays that are beyond your control. Accidents, roadwork, public events, or even sudden weather changes can transform a routine journey into a logistical nightmare.

I have left home for a 30 minute drive to campus 1.5 hours before class and ended up being stuick in traffic for over 2 hours. some things just can’t be predicated. Ultimately its probably not worth your time to go to clas and you might not even be able to make it if you tried.

All you can do here is email the professor (not while you are driving obviously) about the traffic and explain how its impossible to make it to class.

The Takeaway

In wrapping up, it’s pivotal for you to strike a balance. Though there are times when skipping class is warranted, make sure it does not become a trend. The key is to make informed decisions, considering both immediate circumstances and long-term academic goals. Whether battling burnout, prioritizing health, or navigating the chaos of city traffic, its important to make the best choices for your unique situation.