One of the things I love most about university is the independence. Unlike in high school, you don’t need to ask anyone’s permission when you want to go to the washroom or get a drink. You also typically don’t get hounded if you miss class. The responsibility falls on you, and so does the choice. This freedom, as I’ve learned, can be a bit dangerous as well. Missing class without good reason often leaves me feeling too guilty to use the time to rest or be otherwise productive. Plus, there’s extra work to be done catching up afterwards.
However, it’s just not realistic to expect that we will make it to every single class in university. So, to address those cases, here are some suggestions that might leave you feeling less bad about the whole thing, or even anticipate it and avoid the scenario altogether.
Carefully consider logistics when scheduling
In my second year, I had seven hours straight of class on Thursdays. By the second semester, I’d either be missing the first hour of class or the last. My grades suffered in those courses largely because of their timing. The same was true with evening classes. Even if I attended them, I’d spend half the time dreaming of dinner or trying not to fall asleep. Although I totally appreciate that it’s usually not feasible to be picky about class sections, I’d recommend making the logistics (time, location, class format, etc.) a priority if given a choice.
More realistically, I’ve just found that whenever I sign up for anything — class or co-curricular activity — it’s valuable to honestly ask myself: will I actually get up for this? Will I be too tired by that point in the day? Will I be able to eat and refresh? Is this a reasonable commitment, when considering commute, the nature of the activity, and my general moods and tendencies? Basically, get to know yourself and prioritize your needs when possible.
Plan ahead, particularly concerning food
On Thursdays, I know that the Vic Commuter Dons offer free soup in the Goldring Student Centre Atrium from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I always stop there after my class to eat. Last term, on Wednesdays, free VOCA pancakes took place every week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (they’re on Tuesdays now) in the Cat’s Eye, and that’s where my boyfriend would have lunch in between his classes. And on other days when free food on campus isn’t so easy to come by, that’s when packing a lunch and lots of snacks becomes necessary. Not being prepared means it’s easier to skip meals, so having food and a water bottle on me makes all the difference. I’m far less likely to crash before sundown if I’m properly fed and hydrated.
Talk to your prof directly
Sometimes, for whatever reason, class cannot be the priority. In those situations, I’ve found that profs appreciate being contacted personally — and most will understand. Email the assignment in to show that you did get your work done. Explain why you weren’t able to make it and assure them that you’ll catch up on what you’ve missed. See them in office hours to apologize, go over anything you don’t understand (but don’t just show up and ask “what’d I miss?”), and show that you’ve been otherwise engaged in the course. These gestures give off a good impression and also make sure that you don’t fall too behind.