The issue of attendance

As alarms go off across campus, it is a struggle for most college kids to get out of bed and go to class. Many times, they are tired and staying in bed a little longer would be comfortable. Perhaps they have been at class all morning and just do not want to go back. But some college kids have different reasons for not wanting to go to class– but they drag themselves anyway. Why? Attendance policies.

In college, especially at small schools, it is very rare to find a class in which you can get a good grade without worrying about attendance credit. You must attend most classes (often with a small allowance of absences) or your final grade will drop, regardless of whether youperformed as well as any other student there every day. The logic behind attendance policies makes sense–in order to gain the most out of a class, you must be in class participating. I will not disagree that there are many positives to these policies; however, I think there are many negatives that are quickly overlooked.

College is a hard time for many reasons besides school work. If a student is just beginning to get sick, they might benefit from skipping a class and catching up on sleep so that they can quickly battle the sickness and give full effort the rest of the week. Or maybe they are a woman who woke up with horrible cramps that keep them in bed all day because they can hardly move due to pain–yes, some women do get cramps this bad. Should their grades suffer because of the way they were created?

Perhaps the most pressing issue that conflicts with attendance policies is mental illnesses–depression and anxiety specifically. Students with these mental illnesses have symptoms that make it extremely hard to go to class. What is more, attending classes is next to pointless for students who are really struggling with something like depression–they have no interest, no concentration and no motivation to learn anything. Sitting through class might include doodling, spacing off or sleeping. It is not anyone’s call to make a claim that “class will get them out of bed and boost their energy to do something,” or “they might still retain a bit of information that they would not get lying in their room.” Mental illnesses are not that easy.

You might make the claim that if a student really has that big of an issue that they cannot be in class, they should just skip and take the grade reduction. Why, though? Why should a student’s grade suffer because they have problems outside of the classroom? If they miss class and do not put in the time making up what they missed, and therefore perform poorly on tests, it makes sense their grade should suffer. And maybe this semester they have a lot of health issues that do not allow them to get the full profit of the class they are taking–it is life.

As students, we are paying to take these classes, and while it is true some students may take advantage of no attendance policies and skip class for no reason, I would hope every professor makes class valuable enough that the students want to be in attendance. Sometimes they will miss out on important days, but taking care of one’s body, emotionally and physically, should not hinder a student’s drive to get a better grade.