The Absurdness of College Attendance Policies

First, this article is not a bash at college professors as a population, or even at any specific person, but instead something students and professors alike will hopefully stop to think about.

I’ve always thought that attendance was required because professors are worried people might not ever show up.  Let’s be honest, if attendance was not required, there’s a high likelihood we might miss a few more classes than if it was, but shouldn’t that be our own choice? Are we not adults? Or at the very least, on our way to becoming ones? Are we not willingly plummeting into debt because of student loans?

I think any college student, small school students especially, knows the feeling of being handed the syllabus on the first day of class and seeing that dreaded “ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED.  ANYONE WHO MISSES MORE THAN ONE CLASS WILL LOSE 3% OF THEIR GRADE PER ABSENCE.”  This rule, that almost every professor I have had in my college career has had some form of, is something that continues to baffle me.  If you stop and think about it, we are the ones paying an absurd amount of money for their course, and they get paid whether we show up or not.  So really, we should be the ones requiring them to show up for class since we are the ones paying for it, right?  We should be the ones asking them for “doctor’s notes” to verify their reasoning for missing class, as if they were children.  We should be threatening their “Rate My Professor Page” should they miss more than one class, because we certainly don’t get a refund for that missed opportunity to learn.  The flaw through all of this is that the reason for being in their course is to learn the course material, and as long as that is accomplished, it truly should not matter how many lectures we are present for.

Hypothetically, let’s say I take a class in which the rule above is enforced, and I have a 98% test and quiz average but I miss five classes throughout the semester.  I therefore lost 12% of my grade and receive a B, after clearly proving that I know the material.  Isn’t the point of going to class to learn the material?

That in mind, every student should have the freedom to show up to class as they wish and learn the material as they wish, and if they ace exams then clearly the objective has been met.  College is about the end game.  We spend four years preparing for the rest of our lives, and the way in which we do so should be our own choice and our own responsibility.

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