Let me be clear about this: I do not consider myself lazy or a bad student. I’m in my senior year of college and I think I have more than held my own inthe classroom.
But college attendance policies are the absolute worst.
Before getting to UW-Eau Claire, I envisioned a beautiful land of personal responsibility. I thought college would be about making choices for your own future, both in the classroom and out of it. So, naturally, I did not expect to have any attendance taken in my classes, let alone have it counttoward my grade.
But I was obviously far off-base with those naive assumptions. This is my seventh semester of college and I can only recall two or three classes where attendance was not taken. But professors do not merely take attendance; indeed, whether you are in class or not has an impact on your grade.
I hate to pull this card, but I am paying for my education, correct? I do pay for the seat in that classroom, correct? If I am able to get good grades on tests and papers while only going to class periodically, that seems acceptable to me.
Some may counter this argument by saying if a student does not care enough to go to class, they are selfishly holding a spot in said class that could be held by someone else. But I would say that being in the classroom every day does not mean a student will pay attention or absorb any of the material.
Course schedules are handed out in almost every class on campus. Very often these schedules are accompanied with a daily reading plan, outlining which chapters should be read on what days. I think I can read a book at my house and be able to understand most of the material. And if I was to read and not fully comprehend the ideas, I would go to class to gain a better understanding.
Another argument for attendance policies is that professors generally grant three “free” days before absences begin to affect a student’s grade. While that is a small consolation, it still doesn’t make much sense to me. In college, almost everyone on campus is an adult, save for the extremely rare 17-year-olds taking classes. If we choose to sleep in or work on a paper or just not go to class, for whatever reason, that is our choice.
College should be about finding out who you are and what is important to you. I know that if my classes did not have attendance policies, I would go less frequently than I do. But I also know that I would still be in class a lot of the time, because I do think my professors have good things to say and useful information to share that cannot just come from the book.
But we shouldn’t be coerced into sitting in a lecture hall or a classroom. We shouldn’t have to be threatened with a worse grade for not showing up. This isn’t high school anymore, when attendance needed to be taken to stop truancy. This is college, a time of personal responsibility. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we be given a little more of that in our classes.