I have an interview scheduled at the same time as a class, and I'm wondering if I should tell the professor in advance that I won't be attending class that day. The class is important to me, but the interview is more important.

My performance in this subject is really bad, and I'm afraid that asking for an excuse will give the professor a worse impression of me.

Also, the class contains only 11 students.

  • 3
    If you are not expected to attend, you can tell him and ask what would be covered, so you can read it on your own. – Davidmh Nov 10 '15 at 9:25
  • 1
    Is your presence in the class obligatory, or is a voluntary own-responsibility kind of thing? – O. R. Mapper Nov 10 '15 at 11:40
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    Before is always preferable. – Raphael Nov 10 '15 at 15:58
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    @theforestecologist - Overedited, in my opinion. – aparente001 Nov 11 '15 at 13:17

It depends on the context: the class size and style.

If it’s a graduate seminar of 8 students, then you should certainly tell the instructor. If it is a calculus lecture of 300 students, then this will not be expected at all, and might be seen as a waste of time. Unless of course there is a test in the class, or a record of attendance taken.

It’s hard to draw an exact line, but a good rule of thumb is perhaps: will your absence either affect how the instructor teaches, or go on record somehow? If the former is the case (as in a small class with a lot of interaction), then advance warning will be appreciated by the instructor. (If this is borderline, then it would be courteous but not necessary to let them know.) If the latter, then for the sake of your place on the record, you should give the explanation.

And of course, if the instructor has said anything specific about attendance expectations, then that trumps this general guideline!


Yes, tell the professor about your planned absence. Explain the situation, and ask for notes, homework, etc.

The additional info is helpful. How's this:

Subject: Planned absence

Dear Prof. So-and-So,

I am sorry, but a personal matter prevents me from attending class next Tuesday afternoon.

I feel just terrible about this, since I have not been doing as well as I would like in [name of class] this semester. Still, it is an unavoidable conflict, and I thought it only fair to let you know that I won't be able to attend class that day.

Ask a classmate for notes.

I didn't realize you didn't feel you were in good standing in this class -- your comment helped me understand your internal conflict over something which would normally be straightforward.

  • 16
    It really depends on the country of study. In some countries you're free to miss as many lectures as you wish, without notifying the professor, as long at the end you pass the exam. – Massimo Ortolano Nov 10 '15 at 7:15
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    But as a courtesy, it would not hurt to do as aparente001 suggests – user41783 Nov 10 '15 at 7:16
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    It depends also on the size of the class. In a 300 person class, it would be strange to inform the professor (though you might tell your TA). In a 50 person class in the US, I appreciate the notice but most students don't bother to give it. In a 10 person class, it might be the norm to let the instructor know if you will be away. ALSO: asking the instructor for notes can easily come off as acting entitled and uninterested in taking responsibility for one's own learning. – Corvus Nov 10 '15 at 7:17
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    The point is that my performance in this subject is really bad — Then you should reschedule the interview. You really need to attend class, not because of what the instructor will think of you, but because you're struggling with the material! – JeffE Nov 10 '15 at 9:09
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    @Ghost This very much depends on the context... If I (in France) had gone to see a prof and told him/her that I would be absent at the next session, I would have met a blank stare and/or a shrug. It wouldn't have been courteous, it would have been a waste of time for both of us. – user9646 Nov 10 '15 at 9:17

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