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How to travel as a student

The panoramic view from Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park.

Last spring, I bought tickets for a concert I would have to travel out-of-state for. The concert was set for Sept. 13, and everything seemed great, except for one small detail: I would be on a camping trip with my family for the four days leading up to my flight for the concert. This meant I would be missing a full week of classes between the two trips.

I had to ask myself, “Is traveling as a student possible?”

The answer is a cautious “yes.” It takes a lot of work and planning, but as long as you put the work in, it can be done.

Traveling as a student is a common occurrence. Leslie Howerton, assistant professor for Communications at Weber State University, said students take vacations every semester, but especially in the summer.

“I do have students leave, and usually it’s not a problem because I’m very committed to working with them,” Howerton said.

Howerton said the first step in student travel is communicating with instructors. Communicating ahead of time shows that you are still dedicated to the class, and not just carelessly skipping.

“Talk to your professors as soon as possible and let them know when you’re going to be gone,” Howerton said.

Oftentimes, a professor will let you know what you need to make up during that time. If they don’t explicitly tell you, you can check the syllabus and see if that gives you any more information about what you’ll miss.

The Canvas course is another great resource for when you know you’ll be gone. Howerton said she posts slides from her lectures in Canvas if a student needs them.

Every professor will be different, but if you communicate, they might be more willing to work with you.

Working ahead can make all the difference for when you get back. William Pollett, WSU English instructor, said it’s beneficial to do what you can before you leave.

“Maybe you can make up all the work before you’re gone, or maybe you can do it while you’re gone, which doesn’t sound fun,” Pollett said. “Take advantage of the time beforehand, if it’s possible.”

Most professors and instructors will understand that students are busy, especially because they experienced it themselves.

Howerton said she remembers doing homework in the hotel room when she traveled to the Public Relations Student Society of America as an undergraduate student.

Pollett said he once took an entire semester off as a student because he wanted to see The Grateful Dead perform, and he said he has no regrets.

“Your education is so important, but so are your experiences,” Pollett said.

Howerton believes that traveling as a student is not only possible, but a beneficial experience.

“I will always advocate for students to travel because you’re gonna learn as much from traveling as you do in school,” Howerton said.

So, yes, student travel is possible, but it takes a lot of work, and the preparation for the trip should be taken seriously. The concept of just leaving town may seem appealing, but isn’t realistic. Those who aren’t willing to work ahead and communicate should wait for an upcoming break for their adventure.

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Megan Swann
Megan Swann, Culture Editor

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