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Skipping Class: Benefits And Consequences

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: July 2, 2020

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: July 2, 2020


At one point or another in your college career, everyone wonders if maybe they can skip a class or two. It’s a common question: should I skip class? And the answer whether skipping class is a good idea or not very much depends on the class you want to skip, your reason for skipping, and what you will do with that extra time. Read on to find out if you really could skip that class or not.

Should I Skip Class? How To Know

There may be times when skipping class is okay, and there are other times when you should avoid skipping. Here’s a few ways to know if you should skip class:

Read The Syllabus

Before you think about skipping class, read the syllabus! It will hold important information about participation points, graded attendance, and absence procedures. You should also double-check the class schedule to confirm that there are no exams, mandatory presentations, or assignments due on the day you need to skip.

Get to Know The Professor

Find out how your professor reacts to others who skip class. Do they talk to the students afterwards? Do they act like it’s no big deal? Do they mention the absence during class? Try to find out if the professor takes attendance or not as well.

Student with backpack skipping class
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4 Times You May Want To Skip Class

There are a few times when skipping class may be warranted — here are some of those times:

1. You Need A Mental Health Day

If you need a mental health day, you should take it. Sick days are not just about physical well being, but mental and emotional as well. But make sure you put that mental health day to good use — meditate, talk to a loved one, go for a walk, do some creative expression — whatever helps you feel better. Make the day all about you.

2. You Need To Work

If you are struggling to make ends meet, it may be worthwhile to take an extra shift during class time. Try not to make it a habit, however. To avoid this happening often, make sure your work schedules and class schedules are not in conflict with one another each semester, and that you have plenty of time to work outside of class time.

3. It’s A Waste Of Time

If you have gone through the class enough times to know that your instructor’s teaching strategy simply isn’t working for you, and you have found more effective ways to learn the material, it may make sense to spend that class time doing something else. Before you make the choice to skip class for the rest of the semester, however, double check the syllabus to see if class attendance counts for your grade. If that’s the case, then it isn’t a waste to attend class.

4. You Need To Finish An Assignment

If participation counts for zero points, and an upcoming assignment or exam is worth 20% of your grade, it may be in your favor to spend the class time finishing the assignment, practicing for your presentation, or studying for an exam.

3 Times NOT To Skip Class

There are three times when skipping class is non-negotiable. Don’t skip in the following circumstances:

1. The Day Before The Exam

Don’t skip class the day just before a big exam. Oftentimes, this is a day for review, and you may receive additional help or information about what might be on the test. Even if it’s not written in the syllabus as a review day, it may become one anyways.

2. When Participation Counts

When attendance and participation count for part of your grade, don’t make it a habit to skip class. Those docked points will add up over the semester.

3. On Test Day

This one might seem obvious, but unfortunately it can happen. To avoid this, double check the class syllabus often, check in with classmates and professors often, and write down all exam dates in your personal calendar. The same goes for presentations and large project or essay due dates.

University instructor standing in class with seated students
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6 Downsides To Skipping Class

Skipping class may not always be the best choice, especially if it becomes a habit.

1. You’re Wasting Your Own Money

Tuition is usually paid by number of credits, so you are literally paying per credit for the classes you are taking in college. Let’s say, for example, you sign up for the average of 15 hours of class per week. According to the average cost of tuition, this can mean you are paying $51.02 per class at a public college, and $69.40 per class at a private one. So, essentially, each class you skip is money down the drain. And tuition can run much higher than those figures.

2. Your Grade May Suffer

If participation points are measured in attendance, comments during lectures, or other in-person actions, skipping class means losing out on those points. Even if attendance and participation are not part of the class grade, repeated absences may factor in when professors are grading your projects and assignments.

3. It May Start A Bad Habit

Once you skip class once, you will likely be tempted to skip again. This can lead to a pattern of skipping class that you never meant to get into. It’s best not to give yourself the chance to get into this habit at all by attending lectures each time.

University classroom empty chairs black and white
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4. Playing Catch Up Sucks

When you miss a class, you need to find out what you missed, what happened in class, catch up on any revised due dates, study the material, and more. You may spend more time playing catch up than you would have spent in class!

5. Skipping Class Leads To Anxiety

If you skip a class, you may start to worry about what you missed. You also may need to start scrambling to catch up, reach out to classmates to find out what happened, and worry about what your instructor thinks about you. If you lean on the anxious side, it may be better to just attend the class and skip the worrying.

6. Sends The Wrong Message

Professors are passionate about the subject that they are teaching, and show up to share that knowledge with students. Moreover, they put a lot of effort into the classes that they teach. So just deciding not to show up sends a message of disrespect to the instructor.

Alternatively, students who regularly attend lectures show the professor their commitment to their education and can make an excellent impression, leading to potential professional and academic opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the choice to skip class really depends on something called opportunity cost. If the opportunity to do something useful or beneficial means skipping class, then it may be worth the cost of skipping that class. However, the vast majority of the time, class is the most worthwhile or beneficial use of your time for that hour. It is important to get the most out of your education, and the most out of your financial investment — and that means going to class.

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.