Better Late Than Cliché
A counselor told me once upon a time that my prized punctuality was just a reflection of my controlling nature.
Yes, she called me a control freak. I had thought of it as a “natural” ability and a positive gift (except when I showed up early for parties).
The first thing you need to know in college is this: Your professor doesn’t want to hear your excuses.Whether or not punctuality is a gift some have and some don’t, it is true that being late can become a serious problem when you get to college. One professor I know got so frustrated with the interruptions of late students that he locked the door at the start of class. You were either in or you were out, to paraphrase “Project Runway.”
The first thing you need to know in college is this: Your professor doesn’t want to hear your excuses. They have probably heard every excuse ever imagined by college students. And being late is rude, not just to the professor who has to start over, but to your classmates who have to hear the same introduction or explanation again.
So just apologize, then try some of these tips for managing your time:
- First of all, if you’re late, go anyway. You may get called out by the professor, you may be embarrassed when everyone turns to look at you, but you will still get the material and late is a lesser offense than absent, especially if attendance is mandatory. Remember, “better late than never” is a cliché because it’s most often true.
- Don’t keep making the same mistake. If it’s a simple matter of forgetting, ask people who aren’t late to class what they do. You can make a joke about how you can’t seem to get your act together. Or you can ask a roommate or RA for help, to backstop you on getting up in time.
- Do a reality check. Are you having a hard time with an 8 a.m. class because you work until 2 a.m.? Drop the class! If you can’t drop the class, quit the job or ask the boss for a schedule that works with your school schedule. Don’t let that “fun” job cost you the future you envision for yourself. It might not be so fun when you’re old and gray or trying to support a family.
- If late nights are not the problem, set up a reason you are already out of your room well before class, like taking a 6 a.m. exercise class or meeting friends for breakfast at 7. Or both!
- Be real with yourself. If you were late four days in a row, it wasn’t because Monday you lost your keys and Tuesday you overslept and Wednesday you got stuck in traffic and Thursday — whatever. You are not managing your time. Back up your start time until you are no longer late. If it takes you half an hour to get out the door, don’t think you can cut it to 15 minutes.
- Adapt what worked as a kid. Lay out your clothes the night before, make your lunch ahead of time, even bathe at night instead of in the morning. Set up your coffee to be ready to brew and, if you can afford it, buy a coffee maker you can set to start brewing so you’ll wake to that luscious odor.
There’s a reward to being on time, especially if it becomes as much of a habit as being late once was. When you are on time, you get the seat you want in the classroom, you have a minute to say hi to friends, you can smile at the professor, who is happy to see you.
You can relax.