Should Attendance be Required?

Have you ever woken up and felt sick and/or not up to going to school that day but have to? The perk of going to college versus high school is the flexibility, right? Wrong. While growing up you were told that college is going to be more flexible about attendance, assignments, and tests/quizzes. You knew that these classes are going to be hard but you get that false sense of hope that you can decide whether or not you need to go to class. Most classes require attendance. This makes it impossible to take a “sick day” or to even just not go if that is what you are feeling for the day. College students are paying to take these classes. It should be up to them whether or not they want to take advantage of the class and the abilities of the professors and actually learn from it. Also, some people may already know a lot about a subject but are purely taking the class for the sole purpose of earning the credits for their degree. It can be a waste of the student and the professor’s time. All in all, required attendance should be removed and the choice on whether or not they attend class should be given to the students.

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Sick Person

When you wake up sick in high school you automatically talk to your parents and have them call you out. Your parents then get on the phone and call your school to let them know that you will be staying home from school sick that day. You then proceed to lounge around your home to try and make yourself feel better. You make up any missed work the next day when you are back to school. Then that is the end of it. In college it is a little different. Some classes give you a few days that you can use to take a sick day with no penalties. So you just don’t show up for that class. However, if you miss one too many classes you begin to lose points unless you have a school approved excuse for not showing up (even still you need to give your professors a heads up). Some classes you can even automatically fail the course if you miss too many. You could be an amazing student, acing all of the tests and doing all of the homework, but, as soon as you miss too many classes, you fail. St. Cloud State University’s Student’s Health Services Policy states “It is the practice of SCSU Health Services not to provide students with excuses for short-term absences from class or missed deadlines due to illness, injury, or mental health issues.” This can cause students to force themselves to go to school even if they are not feeling all that well then causing other students to become ill as well. This makes learning very difficult to do. Sitting in a classroom all day long while sick is no walk in the park. You are distracted. Not focusing one hundred percent of your attention on the class itself. What’s the point then? If you are not even going to be learning all of the information, or even a slight percent, what’s the point? You might as well just stay home and not go through all of the trouble of going to class and wasting not only your time but your peers and your professors’ time as well.

Not only is required attendance horrible for when you are sick but it can also put a damper on your social life as well. I’m not saying it is beneficial to always skip class in order to hang out with friends. But, being able to travel and/or visit family and friends can be an escape and something that can help you stay in a good place. I had a friend in my class last semester who had gotten into a car crash the morning of class, so he was not able to make it to class. Then later that day he found out that his grandmother had died unexpectedly. He had to go out of state for a few days for the funeral. Obviously this is a horrible time for him as he was recovering from the car crash and he was very close to his grandmother. But finding out from the professor that he would fail the class if he went to the funeral only made this time worse. He had to drop the class before it counted as a fail against him. This was a horrible situation that having a more flexible attendance policy could have helped avoid. If the attendance policy were more flexible, my friend would be able to have finished the course and gotten the credits for the class (that he was already almost done with) and have been able to go to his grandmother’s funeral with no consequences. Overall this situation was bad and obviously it will not be the same for everyone but having that flexible schedule is something that is quite needed especially for college students who are most likely living away from home and may need to travel more often.

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Sleeping Student

Some days you may feel like a resting day is quite needed. The Chronicle of Higher Education brought to attention the fact that people who are in the work force are allowed to take sick days, Personal time off, and vacation. However, that is not the case for college students. College students sometimes work twice as hard and as long as those in the work force. Obviously this is not always the case but most students spend all day in class learning and then have to go home just to do homework or take home quizzes. Students almost never have time to rest. If students are able to take a day and rest, they may be able to put more effort into their school work. If you try and learn too much without a break you may be overlearning and forcing yourself to learn when all you need is a well-deserved break. Taking some personal time off may be what you need to recover and begin with a fresh slate allowing yourself to learn again.

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Faculty Newsletter, there are four different reasons as to why students do not go to class—how interesting the topic is, how much the lecture relate to homework and tests, how much the students learn from the lectures, and the difficulty of the material. First of all, if the subject isn’t interesting to the student then they most likely not want to go to the lectures. Whatever the class, someone will find that topic boring or irrelevant. This will make it unappealing to go to class. Likewise, if the class seems irrelevant to the student they may not feel like they need to go. If the information in class has nothing to do with tests, quizzes, or homework, what is the point? There is no point of even going if it has nothing to do with what decides your grade. Also, if the student feels that he/she is learning from the lectures they will go to class. However, if the student feels like the lecture is not teaching them something new then they will most likely not attend. Why should they? If they are learning nothing new, what is the point? Lastly, the difficulty is what ultimately decides whether or not the student goes to class. If a class is particularly difficult to you, then you will go to class to try and learn the information. However, if you are quite good at a certain class then you may not want to go to the class so you can focus some of your energy on a class that is more difficult to you.

Another reason as to why colleges should drop required attendance is because some students may be too advanced for that class and may just be taking it purely to get the credits for their major. I know that some classes that you take in high school are at the same level as some college classes; however, if you did not take the “college level” of that class then the credits don’t transfer over. So retaking a class may be what it takes to graduate under your major. These students may be doing well in the class that they may not feel the need to go and relearn information. They can use this extra time to work on the classes that they may not be quite as good at. This could help their grade point average and help them become a better rounded student.

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Empty Desks

Even though required attendance is not always the best for the students, there can be reasons for why professors require it.  Students may abuse the system and just never go to class. This can be very annoying for professors. Having spent the time to prepare a lecture just for nobody to show up could be quite irritating. However, professors are getting paid to do these lectures so either way they are going to have to make the lecture.

All in all, required attendance should be gotten rid of and the students should be in charge of whether or not they feel they need to attend class. Attendance policies given by the professors are making it extremely difficult for students to enjoy life on campus and in their classes. Just making the attendance policy a little more lenient would make life just that much more enjoyable for everyone involved.

 

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