College x

You wouldn’t have to choose between whether or not to skip class if you would just kill the underlying problem: poor time management.

You may think skipping class is a one time incident, but it reveals a string of bad habits and poor management (Image via Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy)

You wake up in the morning and immediately check your phone. The time reads 8 a.m. You just realized you slept through your 5 a.m., 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. alarms. You were supposed to wake up a couple of hours earlier in order to write the final pages of a paper you left unfinished. The assignment is due at 12:30 p.m., so luckily you still have a couple of hours left to finish it. However, one other problem remains: You have a class from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

By this time, you are likely to have come to the conclusion that skipping the class is a necessary sacrifice you will have to make in order to write the paper well. If only you could complete the assignment during class. Unfortunately, the professor hates the use of any technology, including laptops. Besides, walking from your dorm to your class will waste valuable time you could be dedicating to finishing your paper. You’d rather not take the risk.

Most college students have experienced this scenario, but it’s far from the only reason students skip class. Some other popular reasons include: not waking up in time, being too sleepy, going to an event that conflicts with the class time and, sometimes, being fully awake, conscious and ready with nothing else to do but just not feeling like going.

Before I go on, it’s important to differentiate between skipping class and missing class. In a nutshell, when you miss class, it’s generally as a result of circumstances beyond your control. Everyone would agree that failing to make it to class because of a car accident is different than missing class because there’s an event with free food on the other side of campus. Like skipping class, missing class is a problem because you lose out on insights from the professor that are unavailable in the textbook, the ability to ask and answer questions and, likely, large swaths of material that will make it harder for you to catch up. While the academic ramifications are certainly bad, intentionally skipping class is still far worse, as it indicates that you have deeper, more character-based issues that, if not fixed, can plague you far beyond college.

Skipping class reveals that you have an issue with two things: prioritization and time management. Some students may feel skipping class is their only option to deal with a situation while in reality, a better grasp of managing their time or prioritizing their responsibilities would save them the hassle.

Better time management will eliminate your need of skipping class (Image via Veritas Consulting)

To prioritize, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “to list or rate in order of priority and a priority is “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.” According to MindTools.com, time management is “the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities.” Time management and prioritization go hand-in-hand. You need to know what you are giving priority to in a day in order to allot your limited amount of time to each task properly. So, if you are struggling with one area, you’re likely struggling with the other as well.

Students often think “I’ll do it just this once,” which makes students more convinced about their decision to skip class. But honestly, this rarely happens only once; a single skipped class will lead to another. This fallacy along with the mindset that skipping is necessary may bloom forth a bad habit. As you grow, you will naturally undertake more responsibilities, such as pursuing a career and/or having a family, in which skipping is no longer an option because of how dire the consequences are.

Imagine skipping an important work presentation for your child’s recital or vice versa. You could lose your job (which means no money) or be instrumental in the breakdown of your family. And you may think, “Well of course I wouldn’t skip one for the other, I’ll find a way to accommodate both,” but since college, you have cultivated the habit of sacrificing one important thing for the other, you will likely continue to do so after graduation. As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.”

By now you should have identified if this is a problem of yours. If you have, you’re in luck! Now you can fix it while keeping the future in mind. The first step is to make your courses the top priority. After all, that is why you are in college: to attend classes and acquire the skills and knowledge you will use in your desired career field. Anything within your control that prevents you from being in class should be secondary.

Secondly, prioritize your sleep. Sleep often gets neglected by college students, but is the most important thing students need in order to function well throughout the day. Getting enough sleep is a determining factor of class attendance.

Third, prioritize every other responsibility around those two things, and after that, designate certain time to all of your other responsibilities. This includes not only clearing your schedule so that nothing may interfere with your class time, but also setting aside time for homework, projects, test preparation and anything that comes along with completing a course. By doing so, you will reduce your chances of skipping class while maintaining a healthy sleep cycle.

Professors often allot a number of days students can be absent without excuses or penalty. Save these for the dire situations you may have to (or want to) miss class. Everyone needs a break once in a while. Just make sure that when you do take advantage of these days, you plan in advance. Double check that it is not a test day, you have contact with reliable classmates who can provide you with notes and you have already created a positive rapport with your professor throughout the semester.

In some instances, a person may be doing all those things right, yet still find themselves in the same predicament. What then could be the problem? In this case, the person may have too many things on their plate and will have to adjust accordingly. For example, some people register for too many classes in their zeal to graduate quickly or “on time.” It is important to remember that the pursuit of higher education is not a race and there isn’t a set time for someone to graduate. Some may have to consider taking four classes instead of six, even if it does mean staying in school for an extra semester. It is better to take your time and finish well than to rush the process and end up with many regrets.

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