CWRU | First Year

What to do if you’ll be absent from class

Class attendance should be a priority for all students. Even in courses where attendance is not formally taken or factored into the course grade, you should be careful not to interpret that as attendance being “optional.” Missing class deprives you of many valuable learning opportunities, and watching lectures on MediaVision or getting notes from a classmate is no substitute.

Of course, there may be occasions when illness, personal or family emergencies, religious observances with work restrictions, or other extenuating circumstances prevent you from attending class. Your contacts in the Office of Undergraduate Studies (including your residential college director and Dean Mason) are here to help you navigate these situations.

It is important to understand your obligations as a student for informing your faculty, providing documentation that confirms the reason for your absence (when appropriate), and making up missed work (within the guidelines of course policies) or otherwise staying current with course content.

Here are some important tips and steps to follow when you must be absent from class:

  1. Communicate with your faculty (and copy your director or dean) as soon as you know that you will not be able to attend class. Typically, this will take the form of an email sent as soon as possible to the faculty instructor of each course you’ll be missing. You should not feel compelled to communicate any details related to the absence that you do not feel comfortable sharing, but general pieces of information such as the nature of the reason for your absence (such as illness or a death in the family) and your anticipated date of return to class are helpful.
  2. Refer to the course syllabus and make sure that you understand the policies related to course absences and making up missed assignments, quizzes, exams, etc. Each course has its own policies, and you should clarify any questions about the course policies with the faculty instructor.
  3. Be prepared to provide documentation that validates the reason for your absence. For example, if you are absent due to illness, you should seek medical care and secure documentation that confirms this. Submit the documentation to your director or Dean Mason so they can let your faculty know that your absence is for legitimate, documented reasons. This simplifies the process for you, creates a record and also provides your faculty with information needed to accommodate your absence in accordance with course policies.
  4. As soon as you’re able to resume your academic work, contact your faculty to discuss the course content you have missed and arrange to make up any missed work in accordance with course policies. This may be best accomplished through an in-person meeting during office hours or an arranged appointment. It may also be helpful to consult with classmates, SI leaders or peer tutors for assistance with learning any of the material you missed while absent.

Regarding religious observances, university policy states “Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs is excused from any such activity. The student will be given the opportunity to make up the examination or work that is missed, provided the make-up work does not create any unreasonable burden upon the university. When possible, students should give notice to instructors early in the semester about missing classes because of religious observance.”

Regarding excused absences, the University Health Service and the Office of Undergraduate Studies do not provide medical excuses for class absence. UHS may provide documentation of medical care and Undergraduate Studies may report on documentation, but what qualifies as an “excused” absence is determined by course policy.