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Ashlée

Missing Class

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Hey all.  Sorry if there's another topic like this; I looked around but I couldn't find one.

 

So my question is concerning missing classes.  I'm going to assume that it's a big no-no.  I mean, it's frowned upon in undergrad, but a lot of the time (at least at my school), you could get by with missing two or three classes without lowering your grade.

 

I've already assumed that missing a single class in grad school will leave me royally screwed.  Is this the case?

 

(The reason I ask is because I have horrid friends coming into town in October who are trying to peer pressure me into skipping class and going to a concert with them.  Not very nice, if you ask me.)

 

Thanks!

Ashlee

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It's not the end of the world if you miss class, but I wouldn't do it because friends are "peer pressuring" you. I missed several classes last semester because I was visiting PhD programs that had accepted me, and all of my profs were very understanding. I submitted any work via email and there was no problem. I've had to miss class because I was sick, once when I had a severe panic attack, and I even skipped one or two the week I took my MA exam. I got the notes from a classmate and, again, my prof was very understanding.

You need a good reason and to do the work you would've done anyway. Also, I know peer pressure is a thing, but if you miss class because your friends bugged you about a concert, you need to take responsibility for the choice you made. Grad school is full of choices, and I don't think any prof will take you very seriously if you say you missed because your friends harassed you into it.

Grad classes generally revolve around discussion of readings and the like, so it's not like missing an undergrad lecture where you have a gap in information because you didn't show up. At the end of the day, what you're missing out on is the engagement that comes from having a discussion with your peers, an essential tool and experience in grad school and academia. Missing a few of these won't screw you up, but I personally wouldn't miss any class unless the reason warranted it.

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Skipping class for no good reason? That is something I wouldn't do. Not because it would hurt my grade but because it's unprofessional and would leave a bad impression that I would not want to make. Whether it'll affect your grade is hard to know but I'd doubt it since we're just talking about one class. If you were missing a class for a legitimate reason (like conference travel or illness) that should not affect your grade at all.

 

If you are looking for help standing up to peer pressure, consider it given -- it's better not to skip class just to go with your friends to a concert. 

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You need to have a real good reason and you need to explain etc. Concert is not one of those. If it s discovered your Professor might be very angry and rightfully so. Grade might not change but your reputation will suffer.

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Thanks for all the responses, everyone.  Definitely helpful!  I was never really planning on going to the concert, but now I have proof to get my friends off my back.  ("It's just one class!"  And you think peer pressure stops when you stop being a teen. :P )

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Maybe it depends on your program, but in mine, you would never have to explain why you missed a class, unless you are asking for something special due to missing class. For example, if you were sick and missed a day of classes, if you never said anything, no one would even question you. But if you asked the professor for a copy of the class notes, or an extension on the homework (if homework is due that day) then you would have to explain.

 

If you missed an entire day for some reason or other, people will likely just assume you were not feeling well, or you had something more important to do. Our professors do not keep tabs on us or require us to explain where we are each and every day (but again, I know other places do require this). If you don't attend class, you will definitely have to face the consequences--like others said, it may look unprofessional, and you will miss out on academic and useful interactions with your peers. However, it's your choice whether or not these consequences are worth it. In our programs, we are adults and capable of setting our own priorities as long as we accept the consequences of our choices and our actions.

 

Personally, if it was a really special concert, I might miss class for it if I know there won't be a quiz or other important things happening in class that day. If I miss class for a concert though, I would know that there is no excuse for me to ask for extensions, I'll forfeit any grades for quizzes in class, and I'll definitely will not ask my friends to take notes for me. So it better be a really really good/important concert! But I'm actually not a big concert goer so I probably would not be in that situation. However, other personal reasons have caused me to miss class without a valid academic excuse before. For example, my parents visiting for a long weekend (one of those weekends where it's a long weekend where they live, Canada, but not in the United States). 

 

I know your main question has already been addressed and you have proof that every class is important. I'm just addressing the larger point, which is that, unlike undergrad, graduate studies (at least in my program) means you are responsible for your own education and you should be the one deciding what's best for you, not your friends, not your family, and also not your professors.

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I'm going to disagree with the prevailing opinion here and say to go for it and skip class.  Of course, this entirely depends on what type of class it is.  It might be different for humanities, but at least in my computer science program, classes are largely disconnected from research and your advisor usually encourages you not to spend too much time on classes, so missing them has little impact on your success in the program.  One of the courses I took last quarter, I only attended once or twice, and still ended up with an A.  I would say to go to the concert and make a lasting memory with your friends who you only get to spend so much time with.

 

Of course there are circumstances that can make skipping it a bad idea - if attendance is graded/if there aren't online notes and you need to show up to learn the material/if it's your advisor's class and you don't want to offend them by skipping it.  But on the whole the only downside of skipping class is that you'll have to study the material a little more on your own, which is worth having a fun night with your friends IMO.

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You don't know the sheer number of classes I and other students in my MS program missed simply because a research experiment was still in progress when the class started.

Never for a concert though. But frequently for research. It's the nature of the beast I think.

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In the humanities, what you do in class is extremely important. I've never had a professor who didn't care if we came to class or not. 25% or more of all of my grades throughout my MA were based on class discussion.

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Yes, I agree. In the Humanities, class can be quite important. It also depends on the type of MA you are doing. In my program, we had two options: a thesis-based MA or a course-based MA. I did a course-based MA, so class attendance was really of utmost importance. That is not to say that my classmates and I did not miss class once in awhile for reasons like illness and conference attendance. For example, at least once a term, I missed a class to present at a conference. I discussed why I would be absent ahead of time with my professors, who were very supportive of my conference attendance and helped me prep my conference papers so they would be presentation ready.

 

But, to really emphasize how important class attendance was for my particular MA, one of my dear friends and colleagues doing the course-based MA was denied admittance to our department's PhD program and the reason given by the department? Because she had missed class too frequently for a course-based MA student and, thus, the department questioned her commitment to her studies. Now, when she had missed class, she had missed for research reasons (a.k.a. to attend conferences or talks that were in line with her area of research), and she had only missed a few classes a term. Yet, as the department head told her, it was a course-based MA and, therefore, course attendance was crucial. Since she had committed to the course-based MA, she needed to commit to her classes first and foremost.

 

That all being said, can you miss class once in awhile? You can. But do keep in mind that unforeseeable circumstances can happen that may prevent you from attending other classes in the future. 

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The vast majority of science graduate degrees are research based rather than course based, so that might be part of the reason why the advice from STEM majors skew towards "skip class".

 

I saw that someone wrote it's possible in some programs to only attend a couple of lectures and still get an A. I agree that in the sciences, this is the logical extension of my philosophy on classes (i.e. they are there for you, only attend what you need to and if you can self-learn then you don't need lectures). However, this would still be a worrisome case for me because most classes are not organized well enough that there is enough material in the reading to cover everything.

 

Also, more importantly, I think the system is screwed up if it is requiring a graduate student to physically attend a class that they can get an A on based on their current/prior experience and knowledge. For students that know the material well enough already that they would only need one or two lectures to get an A, my program will exempt/waive these course requirements (sometimes to be replaced with tougher classes). I know there is a graduate program in my field that actually has zero formal course requirements. You can get a PhD there without taking a single course at all if you demonstrate you already possess expertise in those topics (e.g. by passing the qualifying and candidacy exams). 

 

I do think grad classes are important but I think that as graduate students in a research-based program, we should also be able to set our own priorities and skip classes without people thinking we're not "committed". To reconcile these two viewpoints, I think it is important for graduate programs to allow their students to waive/opt-out of certain class requirements if they possess satisfactory knowledge so that no one wastes their time.

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I'm in the social sciences. I would say that how big of a deal missing class is depends in part on the professor and the reason. Some professors get annoyed if you miss class for any reason, so missing class would be a big deal. Others don't care much. In the humanities and social sciences, the discussions are why you go to class. If it was just about doing the reading to learn the material, you wouldn't need to go to most grad seminars basically ever. But you learn from your peers, from the insights they bring to the text(s), and the connections they make that can help you as you advance in your graduate career.

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Unless I was sick, had a conference, or really important interview (for a fellowship), I would never be able to miss class. We were never given an attendance policy, except for one professor who said you couldn't miss a single class except for an excused absence. However, like others mentioned, this seems to be a humanities only policy. I know plenty of science people who were in lectures or seminars and could skip, but skipping in a class of 25 is easier than a class of 10. 

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Unless I was sick, had a conference, or really important interview (for a fellowship), I would never be able to miss class. We were never given an attendance policy, except for one professor who said you couldn't miss a single class except for an excused absence. However, like others mentioned, this seems to be a humanities only policy. I know plenty of science people who were in lectures or seminars and could skip, but skipping in a class of 25 is easier than a class of 10. 

 

Definitely true about class sizes but my program have classes around 5-10 people (sometimes only 2 or 3 students) and people are still absent when necessary. Although I would say it would take more for me to choose to skip a class of 5 people than it would for me to skip a class of 30 people.

 

Also, my school has a weird system that lets undergrads (who often take graduate classes with us) purposely double-book themselves with the instructors' permission (like Hermione in HP3, but no time turner). So I had students that I TA where they regularly missed half of the classes (because they're in the other class). Makes it an extra challenge!

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What about for a wedding? For financial reasons, the bride (I'm a bridesmaid) made hers on a weekday, which means I would have to miss at most 2 days (Monday and Tuesday).

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What about for a wedding? For financial reasons, the bride (I'm a bridesmaid) made hers on a weekday, which means I would have to miss at most 2 days (Monday and Tuesday).

 

I would certainly miss class to attend a wedding of someone I'm close to. In the year leading up to my own wedding, I missed class and rescheduled exams in order to fly home to plan my own wedding (we had moved for school but wanted to have the wedding at home where everyone else was).

 

But again, my experience is in research based graduate programs. I know that at one of my old schools, some professional programs made it clear on their application page that you cannot miss any class or take any time off during the (12-16 month) program at all, or risk failing.

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I would certainly miss class to attend a wedding of someone I'm close to. In the year leading up to my own wedding, I missed class and rescheduled exams in order to fly home to plan my own wedding (we had moved for school but wanted to have the wedding at home where everyone else was).

 

But again, my experience is in research based graduate programs. I know that at one of my old schools, some professional programs made it clear on their application page that you cannot miss any class or take any time off during the (12-16 month) program at all, or risk failing.

 

Thanks! I'll definitely keep this in mind.

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I joined just to be the voice of dissent on this obviously old post. 

I skip class fairly often. Sometimes the sky is just too blue to be inside. Sometimes I need a nap. 

In my particular program (MS Mathematics), my professors are so terrible that I often skip class and dedicate the time to reading the books instead. My grades do not suffer. I am somewhat more independent in my thinking than others, who allow fear of a "bad reputation" or bad grades dictate their actions.

If you can handle self teaching and there is no explicit attendance policy, you can miss class. This may not be possible in all programs i.e. if your curriculum is entirely generated out of your professor's squirrelly brain with no reference to available texts. 

Hope you went to the concert... 5 years ago. 

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I think bumping a five year old thread to encourage new grad students to consider skipping class, with a seasoning of "my professors are terrible" and "my colleagues aren't independent thinkers," may be one of the all time great first posts.

Edited by jrockford27

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