Missing lectures – how to avoid falling behind

Missing lectures is an often unavoidable part of the student lifestyle. Every now and again a clash will arise, or circumstances will mean that you can’t make it into uni. Whatever the reason, absences happen occasionally and you might end up missing important lessons. Here are a few tips to make sure that missing the odd lecture doesn’t set you back, and that you stay on top of your course content.   

Okay. If we are being 100% honest with each other, we’ve all missed a lecture before. Sometimes it’s unavoidable; appointments clash, alarms fail to go off, the bus breaks down (you get the gist). Other times you wake up one morning and just can’t be bothered to trek into uni for the sake of one hour.

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Now, let’s be clear, I am not recommending missing lectures! But I am recognising the fact that doing so is a pretty universal part of the student experience. And ‘The Study Blog’ is here for you, the students!

Unfortunately for us though, it’s pretty surprising how quickly you can fall behind in your course content when you miss a few lectures. Ultimately lectures are the best way to get a brief overview of a topic, so you don’t have to go away and do your reading without some semblance of understanding. Lectures also provide you with a golden opportunity to ask questions of your lecturer – who has almost certainly studied the topic for a lot longer, and in much more detail than you have.

Like I said though, sometimes it can’t be helped, and you end up missing a lecture on a topic which you haven’t studied before or are struggling to understand. Suddenly, you find yourself reading hundreds of pages with no clue what information you’re supposed to be taking in.

If you find yourself in this situation – don’t panic. Not only have most of us been there, but there are steps you can take to avoid allowing your lecture absence to set you back in your learning.

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  1. Lecture Capture

This one is pretty obvious, I know, but if you’ve missed a lecture (for whatever reason) and you’re lucky enough for it to have been recorded and put on Lecture-Capture, WATCH IT. Let’s face it, there really is no excuse. If you want to watch it whilst lying in bed in your PJs, surrounded by a sea of crumbs, that’s 100% fine – just make sure you watch it.

  1. Your fellow students

So, say you haven’t been so lucky and Lecture-Capture is a no-go. That’s okay! We do have other options. Usually, one of your best bets is to ask your peers. Chances are you know someone on your course who did make it to the lecture, why not ask them if they wouldn’t mind sending you their notes? I don’t know about you, but when I leave a lecture I pretty much have a transcript of everything the lecturer said so I don’t forget anything – so I basically end up with a condensed version of the lecture in my notebook. If you ask around, you’ll likely find someone with pretty thorough notes, who wouldn’t mind talking you through them.

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3.  Your lecturer/Seminar tutor

Alright, so let’s imagine Lecture-Capture has failed you, you’ve read through a friend’s lecture notes and powered through the essential readings, but you’re still confused. What now? Well, never fear, we still have a way around it. I understand that reaching out for help from the lecturer whose lesson you missed might seem like a bust, but if you’re genuinely struggling to understand something, the professors are here to help. Swallow your pride and send a polite email to your lecturer explaining you missed the lecture and would appreciate some help with the topic. It’s very unlikely they would ever deny you a meeting or a Skype chat to help you catch up. If you learn better by talking in person, attend their office hours and ask for some guidance with the readings and content you missed. As obvious as it sounds, professors don’t spend their lives studying specific topics only to shut students down when they are struggling with the information. Most professors would love to share their knowledge with you, you only have to ask!

I completely understand that sometimes lectures can feel tedious, and yes there are lectures sometimes that you’ll find boring – it’s unlikely that you’re going to love every week’s topic, or every lecturers’ presenting style. But if you fall into a cycle of missing lectures it can be very difficult to catch up again. So, make the effort for your own benefit. And if you do miss the odd lecture – it’s okay! It can’t be helped sometimes. Just make sure you put in the work to catch up again – don’t let yourself be confused in silence.

by Izzy

Have you ever bounced back from missing lectures? How did you do it? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.

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