College Myth: I Can Totally Skip Lecture Classes

Don't skip your college classes, including lectures.

Flickr user Amy

It might be tempting if you have a lecture class of 200 students or more, just to stay home and take a nap, or even catch up on another class’s homework. More often than not, lecture classes don’t take attendance. And you can always get the notes from a friend in class, right? Or just use the PowerPoint slide the professor posts online. A few skipped days won’t really hurt in the long run…right?

There are a couple of things wrong with those assumptions, however. Let’s break them down one by one.

Lecture classes don’t take attendance

Actually, some do. There are a number of different ways for lecture classes to ensure that you’re in attendance, including a digital log-in like clickers or Smartphones, a sign-in sheet, or random role call. I had one large lecture class where the more often you skipped discussion sections, the more likely the professor would call you out for it–he’d call your name in front of the entire class and you’d be stuck between admitting you were there but had been skipping, or losing a big chunk of participation points/attendance. After the first round of those call-outs, many more people found themselves in seats on time. Another class of mine had daily sign-in sheets with our discussion section TAs.

The point is, more and more lecture classes are taking attendance. So be there, or you’ll lose out on some easy points.

You can get the notes from a friend

If you do have a friend or well-known classmate in the class, this might be a viable option for sick days or familial emergencies, but don’t count on them for daily lecture notes. Everyone takes notes differently, and it’s best to find the way that works for you. Your friend might have a completely different system that is confusing to you, or just downright not helpful. Or perhaps your friend doodles instead of writing down notes. The point is, develop your own system and write them yourself.

You can get the notes online

True, many professors will post their slide notes online–but rarely will they post the entirety of them. Typically the notes online will be missing significant portions of information or the finer details of complicated topics. This is to encourage students to attend in order to get the complete lesson. Or, sometimes, the professor won’t put any notes up online for the very same reason.

A few skipped lectures won’t matter

While true that most professors give students two or three unexcused absences per semester, it is best to save those for when you really, really need them. One lecture might have pertinent information on the exam that you don’t want to miss. And it’s funny how the temptation to skip increases its pull the more and more you succumb to it. What turns into one or two skipped classes every few weeks can snowball into blowing off the class entirely pretty quick.

For those who attend regularly, they might be surprised at midterm or final’s time when suddenly the entire lecture hall is filled, whereas only two-thirds were before.

In conclusion: if you can help it, don’t skip lecture courses. They may seem easier to get away with than smaller, 30-person classes, but you really won’t be helping yourself in the long run. Go to class. You’re paying for it, so you may as well utilize it.