A brightly lit empty classroom with white walls, black tables and wooden chairs. The table in the bottom left corner has a stack of textbooks on it, the top one opened.

I Shouldn’t Need A Note To Excuse My Absence In College

I had to miss a class recently to get my wisdom teeth removed. I went up to my professor the class before and told her, and because there’s a policy about needing a doctor’s note to excuse medical absences, I asked if she would need one from me.

And of course, she did.

This is nothing against my professor, who is an amazing teacher. This is entirely against colleges who have the ridiculous policy, IN COLLEGE, that you need a note from a professional to be excused for missing class.

Since when does having my butt in a seat mean more to my grade than the work I do?

We all know who’s to blame for this policy: our fellow students who are lazy assholes that fake sickness or a death in the family to get out of attending class.

Thanks for taking legitimate reasons to miss class and turning them into phrases that immediately put professors on high alert, making them assume we’re lying. You are 100% the reason this ridiculous policy is in place. You are the reason for an unbelievable level of mistrust towards college students and contribute to the negative stereotype that us college kids are all lazy people who don’t want to put in the work.

If I get sick or am dealing with a medical issue, my first thought should not be “Crap, will my professor excuse me without a note?”

It should be “Where’s the medicine??”

Just because someone feels sicks doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sick enough to go to the doctor or the campus health center.

Hell, they may not even be well enough to make the commute to the doctor to get said note. I had a group project teammate one semester who got food poisoning and couldn’t make it to class, and she certainly wasn’t feeling well enough to drag herself on campus to get a note from the health center.

It’s also unfair to assume all college students can even AFFORD to go to a doctor or the health center every time they get sick or hurt.

Remember that stereotype of “broke college student?” It’s hella real. There is no feasible way a college student actually could afford to visit the doctor or campus health center every time they didn’t feel well enough to attend class. I’ve missed classes because of a bad cold and I’m not about to get a note because I didn’t want to get my classmates sick!

What about students whose primary physicians are out of state? I had a classmate from PA who had to go back to PA just to get a note from her doctor to prove she had legitimately missed class due to sickness. SHE HAD TO GO BACK TO PENNSYLVANIA FROM MARYLAND. Because the professor refused to excuse her absence otherwise. Think about how absolutely insane that is.

Don’t forget students with chronic illnesses.

I have a fellow writer who constantly misses class because of a chronic sickness. I know people who deal with endometriosis and miss class because some days the pain is just too bad to move. Professors always think students like that are full of crap and “you can’t possibly be sick that often.”

And none of this even accounts for people who struggle with mental illness.

If you have a mental illness, you can’t exactly get a doctor’s note when you take a mental health day. You can’t get a note explaining why you literally could not get out of bed because you were having a really bad depressive episode, or why you missed class because of a panic attack. You can’t tell a professor “I’ve been struggling a lot lately with my mental health and I needed a day for myself to unplug from everything.” Your professor will think you’re just lazy and full of bullshit.

And don’t get me started on missing class for a death.

There was a thread on Twitter a while back (which of course I can’t find now) of people sharing their experiences with this, and it was honestly heartbreaking. The amount of horrible, traumatic stories I have read/heard from college students who had to deal with awful professors when a death occurred…it really makes you realize how many horrible people are out there, and just how many professors do not deserve to be teaching.

There are professors out there who will not excuse an absence AT ALL if you’re out because you lost a loved one. That’s right. You could lose a PARENT or someone equally close, and you’re still losing a grade. Other professors require a freaking DEATH CERTIFICATE, receipt from the funeral home, or something equally ludicrous that will only traumatize the student further…simply to miss class without their grade dipping due to absence.

Losing a loved one is painful enough as it is. Imagine emailing your professor to tell them you’ll be out of class to attend the funeral of a loved one – be it a parent, grandparent, sibling, best friend, longtime family friend, IT REALLY SHOULD NOT MATTER – and they tell you to get them PROOF that this person died. Or worse, “too bad, I don’t excuse absences for any reason.”

If you are a professor who can respond that, you are a cold-hearted Grinch who shouldn’t be teaching.

I saw stories of people who lost multiple grandparents in a semester, and their professors refused to accept their absences because “no one has four grandmothers” (or something along those lines, but you get the point). As someone with three grandmothers (both my maternal and paternal grandparents are divorced and my dad’s parents both remarried), YES, people can have that many grandmothers. And of course, people with LGBTQ grandparents.

But regardless, who are you to judge what’s the “right amount of death?”

We can’t control when people die. Let’s also remember that when we’re in college, our grandparents are usually around the age that elderly adults start dying (as awful as that sounds). When I was a kid, all my great-grandparents passed away within the same year and half – it happens.

To make all this worse? Most professors who do excuse absences for death will only accept deaths in the IMMEDIATE FAMILY. So if the deceased isn’t a mom, dad, child or sibling, you’re taking the L for missing class.

Because apparently, any other loved one isn’t worth attending the funeral of.

Anyone who isn’t direct family, according to colleges, isn’t worth missing class to attend their funeral and pay your respects in the eyes of your teacher.

We’re told we’re adults once we hit college, but we’re still treated like kids.

The policy of requiring a note or some other proof for missing class – just so 10% of your grade isn’t chucked out the window – is a steaming pile of crap that doesn’t take into account so many factors.

But apparently, your attendance grade is worth more than your health or the loss of a loved one.


*Originally posted on Odyssey

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