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How to catch zzz’s without catching C’s

Opinion
By Dana Palmer
Oct 06, 2017

As members of the human race, we tend to agree that there are some “firsts” that will be remembered for the rest of our life. Whether it be our first kiss, our first night away from home or our first day at a “real” job. These things stick with us forever.

For me, it was the first time I skipped class.

It was mid-fall semester of my freshman year, and I was barely juggling the new balance of school, work and a social life. However, I quickly learned that if you sacrifice enough sleep, you can do anything. Or so I thought.

One normal Monday morning I woke up refreshed and relaxed, but a quick look at my phone changed all of that. I had slept through my alarm and awoke five minutes before attendance would be taken at my 8 a.m. class. My stomach dropped through the bottom of my lofted bed, and my adrenaline shot through the stuccoed ceiling. I was faced with a choice. Do I throw on clothes and walk my third-day-without-a-shower self into that class, or do I risk my perfect attendance and lay in bed?

That day, I chose defeat. I stayed in my dorm until my next class, and realized that my entire life did not hinge on a perfect attendance record. I would still pass the class despite a surprise absence.

For some, this realization can be liberating. In the words of Dr. Mark Hayse, the first person to ever encourage me to skip class in moderation, “Academic success is the student’s first priority – but certainly not the only priority.” Some things, like a good morning in bed, can work wonders to cure a late-in-semester motivational slump.

However, Hayse continued, “Missing even one class session is costly, both financially and academically. However, students must juggle competing priorities. The trick is to manage that juggling act with wisdom and good stewardship. Family emergencies and personal health: high priorities. Netflix binging: not so much.”

USA Today’s college section released an entire article in 2013 outlining the good and bad reasons for skipping class. On the good reasons list, lie things like sickness, emergencies, job interviews and even the “academic big picture” (meaning if 50% of your semester grade in one class means skipping one period of another, it’s probably worth it).

However, they also have a list of bad reasons to skip class. This list includes things like you haven’t finished the homework that is due, or that you’re just tired or don’t feel like it.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute! But if I don’t feel like going to class, doesn’t that mean that it’s time for a break?”

Just like the time I woke up at 7:55 for my 8 a.m. and for a few brief moments thought that I had woken up in time to take a shower, you would be very, very wrong.

MNU’s Director of Student Counseling, Elizabeth Diddle, explained. “I think the term ‘skipping class’ is very much a high school term. So I would think of that as a high school mindset.” Diddle went on to say, “It’s the intentionality of it. Not letting life decide it for you, but you deciding it. You saying, ‘Today I skip. Today I make a decision.’”

Now, did that fateful fall day of freshman year set my class attendance into a downward spiral? A tad. But did it also teach me the rewards of relaxation? Absolutely.

As Diddle pointed out, intentionality is key. Skipping class is only beneficial if it serves a purpose. But don’t let a lecture period in a gen. ed. course stop you from taking care of yourself.

 

Dana Palmer

- More by this author

Dana Palmer is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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