Can You Really Leave Class If Your Professor Doesn’t Show Up After 15 Minutes?

It’s happened to everyone before. You show up to class on time but for some reason your professor is nowhere to be seen. You check your email to see if you missed anything before you stepped out of the door, you ask around to see if your classmates have any intel of the professor’s whereabouts and you even check your syllabus to see if you’re scheduled to meet for class that day.

And then, that one person who has never said a word in your class before mentions that it is school policy that students are allowed to leave class after 15 minutes if the professor is a no-show. It’s 10 minutes past the top of the hour and everyone is antsy because there’s five minutes left before you can potentially leave class early.

But wait. Has anyone ever checked to actually see if this policy is actually true?

After looking through the guidelines of the University of Maryland’s student  and faculty handbooks, there is nothing in written form which states that students are allowed to leave class after 15 minutes if the professor doesn’t show up.

The only information which is somewhat related to this issue is found in the faculty handbook:

Faculty are, therefore, expected to convene all classes for the entire stated time. For rare circumstances that preclude convening classes, the instructor should notify the department chair as far in advance as possible and, where possible, notify affected students. 

So technically, if we make inferences based of off the language written in the faculty handbook, if a teacher fails to notify students of their tardiness in advance then the student has every right to leave the class at their discretion without any penalty.

But is that honestly the smart thing to do? No.

You’ve already put a lot of effort into waking up from your uncomfortable dorm bed into the cold, frigid weather. Why not just sit patiently and wait for your professor to arrive?

Here are some tips if you are stuck in this situation:

  • If you truly have the urge to leave class because your professor hasn’t shown up yet, send a respectful email message letting them know that you showed up to class and that you look forward to meeting with them whenever your next class period is. Be human and understanding. Things happen, that’s life.
  • Despite the last bullet point, I highly suggest and recommend that you stay in class for as long as the allotted time is that you’re supposed to be there. Send a message to the professor asking them respectfully where they are and use that time to review various lessons/concepts with your fellow classmates.
  • By reviewing classwork with fellow classmates, you show your professor that you’re willing to make a sacrifice to get the highest grade possible. If the professor eventually shows up, it is also very likely that you will be awarded with extra credit, and who doesn’t like extra credit?
  • To avoid any confusion, ask your professor about what their faculty tardiness rules and regulations are in the beginning of the semester so that everyone involved is clear of what is expected.
  • For non-UMD students: Check your school’s respective student and faculty handbooks. Some schools such as Clemson do have written policy that allows students to leave after 15 mins. if they have a tardy professor.

In conclusion, at the University of Maryland, is it true that students can leave class after 15 minutes if their professor doesn’t arrive? No. 

Are students allowed to leave at anytime if their professor doesn’t show up? Technically yes, although this is not written anywhere.

Should students leave early if the professor is a no-show? It’s all subjective but my suggestion is no. If you’re being honest with yourself then you know there’s no benefit.

If you have information which disproves this information, please comment below and if necessary, we will make any corrections necessary.

– JMan

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