Maria talks about how attendance in some college classes is not necessary but still vital to the learning experience.
The first time I got my hands on a college course syllabus I was a nervous wreck.
An anxious freshman, I was determined to do everything and anything I needed to get the best grades possible. I devoured page after page of my syllabi, and suddenly came across something that surprised me: an attendance policy.
As a first-time college student, I hadn’t realized that colleges often issue university-wide attendance policies. In high school, required attendance made sense: students generally take classes that meet every day, making it difficult to catch up should they miss several days at a time.
From a legal standpoint, high school students are typically under the age of 18, so documenting their attendance serves purposes outside of academics, such as ensuring safety.
But requiring attendance in college?
It’s a simple premise: require attendance, and students will attend. But the idea of universities implementing a rigid attendance policy strikes me as juvenile. College years are deemed to be students’ first taste of independence, yet monitoring attendance infringes on students’ ability to make the choice to attend class.
And as I quickly learned when I transferred to Ohio University, attendance policies are not consistent nationwide — some colleges implement strict policies, others do not spell out an attendance plan at all.
According to an article from USA Today College, the consistent general consensus from professors and students is that attending class should not be mandatory.
DePaul University Media and Film Professor Kelli Marshall said that she does not take attendance, which is in accordance with DePaul’s policy that leaves attendance in the hands of professors.
Instead, Marshall gives her students a chance to earn points by participating during in-class discussions.
“Since most students want to earn their participation points, they generally come to class, even though attendance is not mandatory,” Marshall said.
For Taylor Lykins, an OU senior, it’s the classroom discussions that get her coming to class every morning.
“I go to class because I like participating and hearing what other students have to say, not because the professor has an attendance policy,” Lykins said. “If I have to miss class, I’m going to miss class. Sometimes attendance policies hurt more than they help.”
While I understand why professors wouldn’t want to waste their time lecturing to an empty room, requiring students to come to class when they don’t want to be there takes away from the students who are actually there to learn. No one benefits when students show up just to get their attendance points but then spend the rest of the class talking, surfing Facebook or catching up on sleep.
Similar to DePaul, OU leaves it up to the professor to create his or her own rules for attendance. I spent three semesters at Fordham University, a school with a strict attendance policy that professors were expected to rigorously enforce — if you miss two classes, your grade drops a full letter, no exceptions — yet I find myself attending my classes at OU just as frequently, even though the university has a much more lenient policy.
If a professor creates a class that is compelling and thought provoking, the students will show up — no babying necessary.