The dark side of skipping
This week’s installment of our new series, Guilt Trip, talks about why we skip our classes, and how we might get out of the vicious cycle.
Blame it on senioritis, but I’ve skipped more classes this semester than I’d care to disclose. I’ve never been one to brave the wind, snow, and hail in order to make it to a lecture, but this semester it’s gotten a little out of control. These days it’s hard to look in the mirror and not see a lazy college senior. “Your homework tonight is to read pages 57-112.” “Nice, no homework.”
I don’t think I’m the only one here. Each week attendance in my seminars and language classes drops, and what was once a 150-person lecture is now as popular as The Office.
I remember going through a similar phase my freshman year and being appalled at my own lack of work ethic. I’m a senior now. Have I made any progress? We used to be machines, powering ourselves through high school and straight into the Ivy League. What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we just flip a switch and write the two-page paper?
I’ve become convinced that while laziness is certainly a big factor keeping me at home when I should be listening attentively and clacking detailed notes on my MacBook, there is something else at work for many of us.
It can start with just feeling uneasy with the subject material. Maybe everyone else in the class is fluent in the language you’re struggling to say “what is your name” in, or students in your chemistry lecture are nodding at the board, content that they learned this stuff back in tenth grade. One day, you’d rather not deal with your inferiority complex, so you decide to skip. Maybe you do it again: it’s nice to not have to worry about that class momentarily. But soon, this negligence becomes a downward spiral of not knowing what the next homework is, coming to class and feeling ashamed for being even more stupid and more behind, avoiding your professor when you see him on campus, not starting homework because you have absolutely no clue where to begin, and then skipping class yet again because you can’t possibly show your face now.
Case in point: I’m much less tempted to skip classes I’m good at. I might as well go, get something from the lectures or seminars that I enjoy, and maybe get an easy participation grade. But when I’m in over my head, I’d rather just hide beneath the covers.
The good news is that the most recent time this has happened, I’ve been met with patience and kindness rather than the hammer. Your professors care about you and want you to thrive and learn, and thanks to the increasing conversations about mental health and student wellness, many of them are willing to go out of their way to help you. The first step can just be to say that you need a little extra help and time with your work. It may not feel like it, but you’re truly and honestly not the only one struggling. Plus, it’s a big relief to hear your professor say he or she supports you.
I still think there are completely valid reasons for skipping classes, and sometimes it’s good and healthy to give yourself a break. But at the same time, I want to look back at the second semester of my senior year and know that I made the most of it.
“Guilt Trip” runs Wednesdays.
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