I know, I know, the answer that all law students dread hearing. Hear me out.
Most schools are required to have attendance policies in accordance with ABA rules. At my school, the number of times you have a class per week times two is the amount of times you can skip class in one semester. So, for a class that meets twice a week, I could skip it four times. Anything more than that I risk being taken out of the class.
Usually towards the end of the semester, I have so much work I have to do that I don’t even know where to begin. Should I outline? Answer the 53 emails in my inbox? Read the supplemental reading? Complete the research packet? AAHHH. Probably should just take a nap/clean my bathroom/call my mom/anything to postpone doing work.
When I hit this point, I know that I need to take a personal day and actually complete some work and not just dick around on twitter. If you decide to do this, here are some questions to answer:
1. How many classes will you be missing? I try to do these work days on days where I only have one or two classes, this way I’m not burying myself in more work. Don’t miss that 55 minute class for nothing, either miss it because you need to or show up, even if do it just to sign the attendance sheet and work on your outline.
2. Do you have a battle plan? Create a plan of what work you’re going to complete. Be prepared. Don’t use this as an excuse to dick around the internet or clean your bathroom. You’re skipping class for a reason, which is to do work, don’t set yourself up to fail.
3. How many times have you skipped this class before? Don’t skip the class that you’ve skipped multiple times already. It looks bad to the professor, it creates a pattern of skipping, and the professor will not take your seriously if you come for extra help.
4. Why are you not completing this work? Did you take on too many extra-curriculars? Are you trying to balance a job and school? Are you a social butterfly? Some circumstances aren’t in our control. If you’re completing a school externship and need to work a required number of hours, then try and get these hours done before Thanksgiving so you have a few weeks to study for finals. If you just stay up late to scroll through pinterest, then go bed earlier, get up earlier, and keep your computer closed during homework.
5. Are you on call today? Some people will say that if you’re on call and not prepared, skip. Others will say that if you’re not on call, skip. It all depends on your preference. If you know you’re not on call, could you complete other work in that class? I don’t mean pulling out another book (although I’ve done that before), but could you work on another class’s outline? Could you complete any online assignments? Some professors don’t mind if you tell them ahead of time that you’re not prepared for that class. It’s an honesty thing.
Here’s my usual battle plan:
Wake up. Do not feel like going to class. Groan about how early it is. Remember how I haven’t read. Groan about how I haven’t read. Decide to skip class to catch up on work. Write down all the work I need to complete. Turn off my computer, put my phone on silent. Grab coffee. Read my first assignment (highlighting/book briefing if necessary). Turn on my computer, take notes on reading. Turn off computer again. Read my second assignment (highlighting/book briefing if necessary). Turn on my computer, take notes on reading. Turn off my computer. Repeat until I’ve read four assignments. Take a break for more coffee or lunch. Update my to-do list. Realize I wasn’t as far behind as I thought. Feel good about myself. Do homework for the class I had to skip. Smile.
Remember, law school IS NOT LIKE college. Skipping classes to catch up on work is a very slippery slope to not going to class at all. This tool should only be used in the most dire of circumstances and only once a semester.
Does anybody else ever skip class to catch up on work? What tips or advice can you share?