How to Catch Up If You Miss an Online College Class

Person sitting at a computer getting organized for an online class

You enrolled. You're ready to go. And then life happens, and you have to miss a class. Don't stress! You can catch up, and you might not even miss a beat. Here are some tips to get you back on track after you miss an online class.

Give advance notice (if you can).

While sometimes you may have to miss class due to an emergency, often it's the smaller, planned things like doctor's appointments, out of town trips, and family events that cause online students to skip class. If you know you're going to have a scheduling conflict during the class term, tell your instructor about it as soon as you can. He or she will be able to help you work out a plan to keep you on track, and may even have materials ready for you ahead of time.

Ask for help from your instructor.

If you can't give advance notice and you have to miss class because something critical came up, tell them as soon as you can. They understand that life happens, and want to help.

Chat with classmates.

Another great source of "catch up" help is your classmates. Reach out to them, ask if you can borrow notes, join study sessions, or chat about what you may have missed. Be sure to thank them, but don't worry. They may need to borrow your notes sometime, too!

Set a manageable "catch up" timeline.

Don't make the mistake of trying to cram everything into one day. If you had to miss more than an hour's worth of work, you're not going to be able to catch back up in an hour, and you'll just exhaust yourself trying. Instead, break up your study time into smaller, more manageable sessions and put them on your calendar. Add reading to your lunch break, for example, or skip an hour of your TV routine to catch up on a lecture.

Don't sacrifice other key parts of your life to catch up.

Any online student can tell you that it's all about balance. Although you'll probably have to make some changes to get back on track, try not to sacrifice the important stuff. Reading during family dinner doesn't seem like much if the alternative is missing your daughter's dance recital. Sometimes you have to get creative with your schedule, but you can do it!

Use resources available. Don't forget, we're here to help!

Your advisor is always available to connect you with university resources, such as ODU's writing center and library.

Don't worry! You're not the first person to miss a college class, and you won't be the last. Your ODUGlobal professors understand that things pop up, and your student success director or advisor is there to help you through the challenges that arise during your academic journey.

For more information about ODUGlobal and to find a program that's right for you, visit