Attendance shouldn’t affect grades

By Anthony Szudarski

As a student, every now and then I’ve realized that there will be days where I simply cannot go to class and days where my bed is just too comfortable to leave. My question is this: Should my grade for a class I’m paying to take be affected by this decision?

My answer is no.

When you take the time to think about it, college is, in its purest form, a service industry. I am paying the school to provide me with an education. That’s the transaction. Whether or not I utilize all that the school has to offer to receive that education should be completely up to me from that point on, i.e. attending class.

Now, I don’t mean to say that you can and should be able to go your entire collegiate career without ever attending a class; that would be preposterous. What I am saying is that many of us have attended a class that we weren’t being challenged in.

Maybe it was course where the instructor taught straight from the book, maybe it was a lecture where you could have spent the entire time filling out a crossword and still have known what was going on or maybe it was just a subject you’re already well versed in.

Should we really be docked points from our grade if we can find a more productive way of spending an hour?

What if that hour is used to work so we can pay for our education–is skipping class OK then? What if it’s used to volunteer at a non-profit organization or to help tutor a student who may not be doing as well in classes as you are? Are these acceptable situations?

My answer is yes, but I’ve learned what I believe and what is put into curriculum are far from similar.

What I have found is that in classes where I am able to attend as I please, I have formed better friendships. Voluntary attendance makes you have to ask other students what was discussed in a previous lecture–one you didn’t attend–or maybe even get advice on a paper. No matter what, being able to skip classes makes you talk to peers, and I think that’s more important than being present for a speech I could have easily read from a book.

I am currently enrolled in two classes where attendance directly affects my grade, so much so that if I were to just show up for tests I would be docked an entire letter grade. In another course, we are enticed to attend class in case we have “attendance quizzes,” which pretty much provide free points if you’re in class that day, and I think that’s ridiculous.

Students are paying thousands of dollars to receive an education. If they don’t think they need to attend class to get it, they shouldn’t be punished for that. Because really, is it a punishable offense to be able to understand the material without aid?

All I know is that unless something changes, I will be dragging myself to these classes and filling out the crossword every day just to make the grade I deserve.