Why Mandatory Attendance Policies in College are Bogus

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by attendance policies in college. If I’m old enough to be deciding my future, I think I’m old enough to give careful consideration as to whether or not attending class is reasonable on a given day. Some professors might think differently. They may even get offended if too many people are absent. However, if I have legitimate reasons for staying home, I should be able to do so without feeling guilty or having points taken away from my grade. Here are seven reasons why I think mandatory attendance policies are unnecessary and unfair.

1. Taking points away from my grade for missing class is redundant.

There’s already a built-in consequence of missing class: I’ll be behind in my studies, which will in theory influence my grade.

2. College is not free.

Every class we take digs deep into our pockets. I want to get my money’s worth, and that’s incentive enough to show up to class.

3. Sometimes lectures just aren't even worth it.

If a professor makes attendance mandatory because they know the lectures are not entertaining or useful enough to persuade us to stay, something needs to change. I’m not paying to teach myself or get bored to tears.

4. Students don’t go to the doctor’s office for a flu diagnosis.

Some professors will let absences slide if they have a doctor’s note. I don’t go to the infirmary unless I’m dying. If I have a manageable fever I’m not going to the doctor’s office to get a note confirming what I already know. Instead I’m going to sleep and try to get better as soon as possible.

5. Sometimes we really need a day off.

And no, the weekend doesn’t count. Everyone has that one day where they really don’t want to go to class, and they know they can make up whatever they miss. This day is important for our well-being. I’ve had to put my mental health second in order to attend an unimportant lecture just to be counted for attendance.

6. Technology has made rapid communication possible.

Let’s use it. Not only can I visit my professor at office hours to find out what I missed, but I can also email my professor. Once I find out what I need, I’ll read my expensive textbook to stay informed.

7. In the end, the point of college is to get an education.

How we go about achieving the education shouldn’t matter. By forcing us to attend lecture, respected professors degrade themselves to glorified babysitters. I’m not paying tuition for a babysitter.

Just to be clear, I’m not condoning students who think it’s okay to miss 75 percent of their classes. I just feel strongly about undeserved punishment. If I need to skip class, professors need to trust that I’m not making the decision lightly. There are mental and physical health reasons that shouldn’t be neglected. I respect professors who leave that decision up to us. They know (or hope) that we’ll make the right decision and come to class, but they also know (or hope) that if we miss, we’ll do the right thing and go to office hours to find out what we missed. If I make the decision to miss class, it is a planned decision.

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