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Editorial: Scrap Mandatory Attendance In College Classes

Every student at Central Connecticut State University most likely has had at least one professor whose syllabus stated that coming to a class is a must. Aside from the first one or two permitted absences, every resulting absence, the rule in the syllabus possibly went on, would result in a decrease of the student’s overall grade.

This method of mandatory attendance is, plainly put, ridiculous. Perhaps there were understandable reasons for it in high school, as students are still considered rambunctious teens and taxpayers’ dollars are funding public education, but at the university level, there is no need for it.

Yes, mandatory attendance makes it easier for professors to keep track of students and takes away the hassle of having to organize notes from doctors and bucket-loads of emails with the subject line, “I won’t be in class.” Moreover, attendance policies that impact participation can make students more proactive and more engaged in class.

However, mandatory attendance takes away the task of making oneself come into class from students. It’s a form of babying. It’s reinforcing something obvious—that you won’t do well if you don’t show up—and holding students’ grades hostage.

Going to class is a responsibility and a choice. It is up to students to be dutiful and to make the correct decision to come in, take notes, participate and learn. If a student doesn’t attend a class, chooses to fall behind rather than to catch up on their own and subsequently suffers on a quiz or a test, it should fall on the student. It is a mistake that the student should go through learning on their own.

Students who care about their grades will show up and, even if they don’t show up, they’ll strive to find out what they missed so that they can succeed. The professors who tell their class at the beginning of the semester that it’s their problem if they’re absent and thus fail are the professors who are actively promoting responsible behavior.

In addition, there’s no guarantee that forcing a student to be present means they’re actually going to learn something. Tuning out of a lecture and staring longingly out of the window still happens even at the university level.

Furthermore, many students attending universities don’t just have school to worry about. Though they may be full time students, they can also hold a part time job. Those who have a job are aware that scheduling can often times get messy. Working students are often faced with the issue of being scheduled during a class which, for classes with a mandatory attendance policy, can be an issue.

It’s hard enough for students to balance work and school, let alone have to worry about the threat of failing a class if they miss more than two classes.

Many professors with mandatory attendance policies will require an excuse note from students, but for those same students who couldn’t get off work or students with a family emergency, a note from a parent or a boss most likely won’t cut it.

College isn’t a job where you have to scan your ID in and your ID out. Students are paying tuition on their own and should put that money to use on their own. Mandatory attendance is unnecessary. Scrap it.