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Attending to attendance policies

In a day and age where students aren’t just students, these policies shouldn’t exist

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Since most students work, the decision to attend class should be theirs. 

In an ideal world, college students would be punctual, never be late to class or heaven forbid – absent. Unfortunately, we don’t live in this world and more often than not, undergraduates may have other engagements that could tear them away from instruction.

Professors have been rubbing salt in the wounds for these students by enforcing attendance policies, which can vary from minor point deductions to failing students – an insane concept in a world where college students are much more than just students. 

Working Class

With tuition prices rising each year, undergraduates are forced to work part-time jobs or fall into the never-ending pit known as student debt. We all wish that off-campus part time jobs would work around a busy student’s school schedule to accommodate for class time. However, in reality that’s not the case. Working a part-time job involves dealing with the job schedule you’re given and picking up shifts from time to time. Working an extra shift to pay for another semester of schooling is often given higher priority than 75 minutes of instruction.

According to a study done by the American Community Survey, of the 52 percent of students working part time, 68 percent worked more than 26 weeks per year and half of the 68 percent of people worked more than 20 hours a week. This study shows that student workers aren’t uncommon, especially in Hawai‘i, which boasts one of the highest percentages of college undergraduates who work full-time. It’s a restricting decision for universities to mandate attendance policies for students who are strapped for time, trying to pay for their education as well as other amenities. 

Students make their own choices

Students should be held accountable for their own prioritization of their time, and an attendance policy takes that choice away from college students who are trying to develop into responsible adults. The fact that students have already paid for these courses makes an attendance policy more absurd. It’s true that students are putting down money to learn and that not attending classes wastes their money, but it should be up to them to make that decision. If it’s not their decision, it hinders their opportunity to act like adults.  

The easy way out

According to a study by the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, researchers found that the average amount of classes missed where attendance was referred to as a “participation grade” was 1.16, compared to the 2.04 of classes missed where no absence policy was mentioned. This shows that attendance policies may not be the best way to get students to attend class. 

This may sound crazy – but professors could make students want to come to class by making it an interesting, engaging experience that has students interacting with the material at hand instead of droning over a five year old PowerPoint.