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This past weekend, the varsity swim team went to the Big Al Invitational at Princeton University, where we had a great weekend of fast racing and exciting breakthroughs! This swim meet required that we leave for Princeton on Thursday at noon, and return on Sunday night, which, as you can imagine, interferes with classes. This is a common case for many people at Hopkins who are a part of sports teams, clubs, or research groups that travel to scientific conferences.

It is commonly said that missing one day of classes in college is like missing a week’s worth of information, and is nearly impossible to make up. I personally disagree with this statement, because although missing school for another event does put you behind, it definitely is possible to catch up with a little bit of extra effort.

When you know you are going to miss school, the most important thing you can do is let your professors know early in the semester. I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve never had a swim meet interfere with an exam, but I do know several people that have needed to make up exams. Though every professor has a different policy on make-up exams, the vast majority are willing to accommodate your schedule if you let them know WAY ahead of time.

The same thing goes for homework and other assignments. Of course, the best course of action is to finish your work early and turn it in before you leave, however if you communicate with your professors it may be possible to receive an extension, or have the option to email in or scan any homework or papers. Overall, the most important thing is to be honest with your professors about why you are missing class, and what you think you will be able to get done prior to leaving, and while you’re there.

When it comes to catching up on material, your friends are your greatest allies. Asking your friends to share their notes with you will help you get a handle of the information you need to know. Then, once you’ve reviewed that, you can clarify information by asking questions to your friends, or to professors during office hours. In addition, I’m fortunate that my Genetics and Biochemistry classes record their lectures and post them on Blackboard, which allows me to directly hear the professor’s explanations of the lecture notes. Rewatching these lectures allows me to keep up to date on the information even if I’m not in the classroom.

With all this being said, it is always better to be in class when you can, and to only miss when you absolutely have to. However, I want to share that at Hopkins, it is still possible to engage in extracurricular activities that may cause you to occasionally miss school without falling too terribly behind. The most important thing is working with and communicating with your professors, and with a bit of planning, you should have no problems.