Class Absence and Attendance Guidelines

Colgate's class attendance policy is described in the University catalog.


You can review the current catalog online.

At the time of this writing (October 2014), the guidelines read:
Students who have enrolled at Colgate have made a commitment to participate in the educational program of the institution. Attendance at all classes is expected and is an important part of one’s academic development. Since most faculty at Colgate put a premium on student participation in class, absence is likely to be detrimental to the student’s learning in any course.

Attendance practices for each course will be announced by the faculty member at the beginning of each term. Conflicts between curricular and co-curricular activities should be avoided by careful planning and scheduling of activities. The rare but unavoidable conflict should be worked out well in advance by the student with the faculty member’s permission.

Students may request that an administrative adviser notify faculty members about prolonged absences due to serious health problems. Such problems must be verified by Student Health Services. Students should consult an administrative adviser immediately if non-health-related obligations will force them to miss several classes. Single or brief absences should be discussed by the student and faculty member without necessarily contacting the student’s administrative adviser.

In April 2015, the Academic Affairs Board approved a memo on course scheduling conflicts that offers guidance to the community. Read the memo below.

April 22, 2015

With the rich and varied activities and events scheduled throughout each day, it is inevitable that scheduling conflicts will occur.  The Academic Affairs Board (AAB) has held discussions on the nature, minimization, and management of scheduling conflicts—particularly conflicts that occur in weekday late afternoon and evening hours.  As the department of athletics has a well-developed policy on athletic related conflicts, the discussions of the AAB were directed towards the myriad of other scheduling conflicts.  While it was the sense of the AAB that the majority of conflicts are eventually resolved satisfactorily, it was nonetheless felt that some guidance from the AAB to the Colgate community could be helpful.

Nature of the Schedule Conflicts

The late afternoon and evening hours play host to a wide range of curricular and other activities and events.  These include regularly scheduled credit-bearing courses and course components (e.g., instructional labs), out-of-class events required as part of a credit-bearing course (e.g., lectures, exams, film screenings, performances), and programming from other campus offices (e.g., Career Services).

To minimize and manage schedule conflicts, the AAB offers the following recommendations to faculty, students, and to other campus offices that engage in late afternoon and evening programming.


Faculty should be judicious towards the scheduling of class activities outside of the regular class period as their students may be enrolled in other courses or participate in other valuable activities that place demands on the late afternoon and evening hours.  Nonetheless, it is understandable that some required class activities may have to take place outside of a regularly scheduled class period.  In such instances, these are the following guidelines: 

  1. Whenever possible, courses with regular, required out-of-class events (e.g., evening exams on a particular evening) should include that information in course registration materials so that students can adjust other aspects of their course schedules accordingly.
  2. Whenever possible, a complete schedule of out-of-class events should be provided in the course syllabus.  Reminders should be given as events approach.  Out-of-class events announced on short notice should have appropriately flexible expectations towards attendance.
  3. Procedures for managing individual conflicts with required out-of-class events should be thought through in advance.  It is likely that some students will not be able to attend an event on a given evening.  It should not be assumed other conflicting event(s) can be rescheduled.  An excused absence or alternatives to participation in an out-of-class activity may be necessary.
  4. Policies towards attendance at out-of-class events, and procedures for the management of schedule conflicts should be communicated to students in the course syllabus.
  5. Faculty are not expected to alter attendance policies in instances when a student has not followed stated course policies on schedule conflicts (unless there are reasonable extenuating circumstances).



Students have an important part to play in the resolution of schedule conflicts, as the student is often in the unique position of knowing that a conflict exists.  Thus, students should follow the suggestions below.

  1. A close eye should be kept on scheduled curricular and other events such that conflicts can be detected and resolved in a timely fashion.
  2. Students should know all course attendance policies.  While two days’ notice of a conflict may be sufficient for some courses, other faculty could reasonably expect notice of a week or more.  If a policy is not clear from the syllabus or other course information, students should ask the faculty member.
  3. Attendance policies must be followed closely.  One should not expect rescheduling, an excused absence, or an alternative to attendance if the attendance policy of the course has not been followed.
  4. The nature of a conflicts must be presented accurately when requesting rescheduling, an excused absence, or an alternative to attendance.  Students should be clear as to whether a conflict is due to an inflexible required event, a required event with some flexibility (e.g., a lecture that is also recorded), and an event that is not required (but that the student really wants to attend).


Other Programming

Campus offices that engage in programming can also be a source of schedule conflicts.  The suggestions below should be followed.

  1. When possible, multiple offerings of an event should be scheduled so that students may select an option that does not pose a conflict.
  2. A student should not miss out on an important opportunity because the student has a scheduled course or a required course function that prevents the student from attending a non-curricular event (e.g., an information session).


Resolution of Schedule Conflicts

As the student will likely be the one initially aware of a conflict, the student should generally take the lead in resolving the conflict.  Many conflicts can be quickly resolved simply by the student bringing the conflict to the attention of one or both of the parties responsible for the conflict.  However, should the student have made a good faith effort to resolve the conflict without success, the parties responsible for the conflict should directly communicate with each other.  Misunderstandings and hard-feelings can be avoided by direct communication.  If a satisfactory resolution is still elusive, an Associate Dean of the Faculty can be consulted for assistance.  At no point in this process should the student be disadvantaged (assuming that the student followed stipulated guidelines on schedule conflicts in a timely fashion).


The AAB is supportive of the rich array of curricular and other events and activities that enhance the learning and growth of our students.  Scheduling and attendance polices that are mindful of the many demands and opportunities placed before our students will enhance the positive aspects of late afternoon and evening programming.  Responsible adherence to attendance policies facilitates the satisfactory resolution of conflicts.  The AAB will continue to consider scheduling and schedule conflicts, and offer further guidance and policy as necessary.  The AAB welcomes input from the Colgate community.

Student-Athlete Attendance and Absences

The Intercollegiate Athletics Philosophy in the Student Athlete Handbook, available on the athletics website, states: 

The educational purposes of the University and the welfare and commitment of the student-athletes to formal education are paramount considerations within each program and are not compromised in the pursuit of competitive excellence. Coaches understand and support the fact that academic achievement is the priority for every Colgate student-athlete. Athletic practices, competitive schedules and travel are arranged with that principle in mind. Athletic team workouts, meetings and practices should not conflict with the daily class schedule and every attempt should be made to schedule games and travel in ways that minimize conflicts with classes. 

Student-athletes are responsible for attending all classes, completing all classroom assignments, and conducting themselves in ways that are consistent with acceptable classroom performance. Student athletes are required to meet all Colgate academic requirements as well as the eligibility requirements of the NCAA, Patriot League, and ECACHL. Attendance at all classes is expected and plays an important role in one’s academic development. Student-athletes are not permitted to miss class or mandatory class activities to attend practice (including weight training or ‘lifting’). As outlined in the Academic Affairs Board memo on scheduling conflicts (see above), student-athletes must know and follow course attendance policies closely, and if the policy is not clear from the syllabus or other course information, students should ask the faculty member. 

In the end, it is the student's responsibility to decide how to manage any scheduling conflicts

The student-athlete handbook provides the following procedures, approved by the Committee on Athletics, for students to follow in order to identify and address scheduling conflicts involving intercollegiate athletic competition: 


It is extremely important that student-athletes communicate with their coaches and professors, at the start of each semester, about potential conflicts between athletics and academics. Since some instructors wish to communicate solely with students, while others prefer to communicate with coaches, the recommended steps for communicating about potential conflicts are as follows:

  1. As early as possible in the practice season, student-athletes should be given the schedule of athletic contests and estimated departure times.
  2. Student-athletes should identify any conflicts between academic and athletic contests.
  3. In a team meeting early in the practice season, coaches should instruct studentathletes that it is each student's responsibility to meet as soon as possible with their course instructors to discuss class attendance and the instructors' class absence policies.
  4. Student-athletes should be encouraged to make an appointment with each course instructor to discuss potential conflicts rather than just handing the instructor a list of the games and proposed travel schedule.
  1. Student-athletes should discuss with each course instructor the implication of class absences arising from games and travel for covering class material and meeting course requirements. At this time the student can seek clarification regarding the instructor's policies about class attendance and excused absences. The student should also check whether there will be any special out-of-class speakers or academic events that might require missing athletic activities.
  2. The student should also ask whether the instructor would like to receive a letter or phone call from the coach concerning the athletic schedule and possible permission for a student to miss a class. This will give the course instructor the opportunity to express his or her preferences about contact with the student and/or coach concerning class absences.
  3. The student should also alert the instructor that the arrangements for possible post-season competition are determined late in the season by non-Colgate officials.

The student-athlete should let his or her coach know the outcome of the conversation with the academic faculty. The coach can then respond appropriately.