Sept. 29, 2014
There are two reasons professors want you to show up to class.
One: They feel attendance is conducive to their subject.
Two: it’s personal.
Their egos just can’t handle it if you don’t show up; they and their subject are super important and your presence is required to validate that.
I missed a class during the first week of school because I was immersed in a job and summer internship. Settled into a rhythm by August, I simply forgot about school.
I realized my mistake, but it was too late and I was booked solid that week. I figured if anyone in the class really wanted to know my major, favorite animal and feelings about long walks on the beach, they could ask me another time.
The first day had not even begun to wane before I received a snarky email from a professor disguised as a polite request (name changed to protect the well-intentioned).
“Dear students, If you’re not going to attend this class, kindly drop it. All best, [Professor Well-intentioned Snarkypants]”
Naturally the first thing I wanted to do was “kindly drop” the class. Regrettably, it was required and the only one that fit the timeslot.
I understand the frustration. I too wish the rest of my life would just stop happening so that I only ever have to worry about one thing at a time.
I also wish I could eat three square meals of philosophical conundrums covered in cheese and that, in place of rent checks, my landlord would accept compelling insights about light pollution signed by sea turtles.
I showed up the next week and was educated in the hallway that the “real world” would not tolerate such absences and that an employer would fire me.
Oh, the irony! I had missed class precisely because of the “real world.” That I was paying them to be there, not vice-versa, was also irrelevant.
So many professors ar e passive-aggressive about their attendance policies and knock you down a letter grade or two for missing classes, even if you know the material better than anyone that can show up every day.
These policies always come across as an attempt to compensate for poor or lazy class design and never actually encourage interest or learning. Everyone knows young people resist an iron fist, regardless of what it’s enforcing.
Besides that, threatening to wield dictatorial power as an educator by artificially adjusting a final grade is teaching the opposite of personal responsibility.
Being older than the average UCCS demographic, I thought these feelings on attendance might be unique. Sophomore Wyatt Songer assured me they were not.
“While I understand the need for students to attend class, I find that most instructors’ grade too harshly based on attendance. Sometimes life gets in the way and a student should not be punished for the inability to attend a class,” Songer said.
Attendance for its own sake confuses senior S.K. Khan as well.
“I want to be there because it’s interesting to me. If a professor has required attendance it usually means they’ve had issues in the past because the class is draining or boring,” Khan said. “Make it interesting, give them a class they’ve never experienced, and students will show up on their own.”
On top of that, since the average person must have a job or two to afford the costs of higher education and opportunity costs of spending time in class, one would think wellintentioned professors would be a bit more understanding.
The fight for attendance is an unneeded war in the classroom. It’s better decided by students.
Professors should focus more on teaching and less on seats, because it should be our responsibility to fill them, not theirs.