In college, your mother no longer has to call the school to excuse your absence when you’re sick. The days of the awkward voicemails rattling off your name, the date, your parent’s name, and the explanation that you were home in bed with a cold are officially behind you. In college, you are legally an adult and you are responsible for getting yourself to class (or not) and keeping up with the course material (or not). When you get sick in college, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to stay home, and to make up any work that you missed. With cold and flu season now upon us, here’s some advice on how to deal with sick days in college.
First things first, you are always the best judge of how you feel. If you think that there is no way you can make it through class, then there is no way you can make it through class. A lot of professors post lectures and assignments online, so even if you have to miss class, you can still catch up before the next one.
Even when you feel awful, you should try to be considerate of other people. You may think that it’s always better to go to class, but if you keep sneezing and coughing throughout class, not only are you interrupting your own learning, you’re also disturbing your classmates and your professor.
Check your professors’ attendance policy. Most will allow you a couple of absences before they start affecting your grade. Also, some professors will ask you to contact them if you are going to be absent. If that’s the case, send your professor a quick email explaining that you’re sick and unfortunately won’t be in class that day. However, other professors, particularly the ones who don’t take attendance regularly, live up to what everyone told you about college professors: they don’t really care if you show up, they’ll teach no matter who is there.
If you know that you’re going to be absent, try to text a classmate to ask to copy their notes on the lecture you missed, and ask for any assignments or reading that was assigned in class and not on the syllabus. It’s bad enough that you were too sick to go to class, it would be even worse to see your grade drop because you missed an assignment that you could have easily done if you had just asked.
If you do decide to go to class, be comfortable. Bring tissues, cough drops, hot chocolate: whatever will make you feel better. And it is always better to forego makeup for the most part or entirely than to have wiped it off completely within half an hour.
And if you need to leave, then leave. There is no shame in admitting that you thought you were well enough to go to class, but now that you are there, you realize that you are too sick to give the class your full attention. Try to wait until a break if you can and then discreetly leave the room. You might want to let your professor know that you’re leaving and why, but you probably don’t want to interrupt, especially since your illness might be distracting enough.
Once you feel better, make sure to get any assignments you missed from classmates or your professor. Some professors won’t allow you to make up classwork, which is unfortunate, but it’s more important for you to recover from your illness and be healthy than to earn those participation points.
If you take anything to heart from this entire article, please let it be this: your physical, mental, and emotional health is always more important than your attendance, test scores, or grade point average.