As Ohio University instructional fees saw gradual upticks in recent years, the cost of missing a class also increased for students.
The cost per class varies depending on a range of factors: a student’s tuition, the number of classes per semester, credit hours taken and how many credit hours a class is worth.
Skipping a three-credit-hour class that occurs three times a week — every Monday, Wednesday and Friday excluding holidays — at OU would cost approximately $25.37 for freshmen, $24.95 for sophomores, $22.63 for juniors and $22.25 for seniors. For a class that occurs twice a week — or Tuesday and Thursday — those prices would rise to $37.15, $36.53, $33.14 and $32.59, respectively.
Those costs are based on in-state students taking 15 credit hours, or five classes of three credit hours each. Students can attend a total of 41 Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes and 28 Tuesday and Thursday classes during Spring Semester. Tuition from each semester includes the instructional fee but not the OU general fee.
Alli Benedetti, a freshman studying athletic training, said she skips class — usually one that is a prerequisite — approximately once a month to study for another class.
“It’s so expensive to go to school, and you pay for every single class that you have. You might as well just go to it,” Benedetti said.
Of the six Mid-American Conference universities in Ohio, OU has the second highest cost per class skipped, and Miami University has the highest. Those two universities also had the highest tuition costs for the 2016-17 academic year.
Arthur Trese, an associate professor of environmental and plant biology, taught a second-tier natural science class with about 250 students last semester. He said attendance in the class is good before the first test, but after that it begins to drop, and as many as 30 percent of students don’t attend on “a really bad day.”
To hold students accountable for attendance, Trese randomly assigns eight in-class “pop-assignments” throughout the semester.
“Education is the only product where people want the smallest amount for what they pay for,” Trese said.
Terry Eiler is a professor emeritus who taught introduction to studies in visual communication, a class of “usually over 200 students,” last semester. Students are allowed to miss six of the 27 days the class meets before automatically failing.
“In my really large class, until we take the first test, there’s very good attendance. After (that), it goes down a little,” Eiler said. "In the second half of the semester, it goes down even more."
Eiler said four students failed the class for breaking attendance policy in fall 2016.
“I give them a reasonable number of class misses in case something happens. People get colds, family emergencies come up, things happen,” Eiler said. “Class is like a job. You only get paid if you show up.”
Megan Ryan, a senior studying marketing, said she skipped class as a freshman but doesn’t anymore.
“By the time you’re a senior or a junior, you probably shouldn’t be missing class too much. (It’s OK) for some of the (classes) that may be easier … or if you’re not feeling well,” Ryan said. “(As long as) you’re not doing it all the time. It’s definitely not a good habit.”
Jennifer Howell, an assistant professor of psychology, taught a "mega-section" of introductory psychology with about 400 students in the fall. She allows students four absences.
Howell uses clickers in class and has students report their seat numbers. She said she can’t prevent students from “gaming the system,” but knows of absences when two submissions include the same seat number or when a student doesn’t submit both a seat number and answers to questions.
Despite tracking attendance, Howell said she tries to maintain a fair policy. She said when Bill Clinton visited OU's campus in the fall, she canceled a graduate class she was teaching on the agreement the following class would be extended by 30 minutes.
“If (students) have a really enriching opportunity, I want them to skip my class. I want them to feel like they can,” Howell said. “If they have a chance to go do something really awesome with their lives, great, go do it. Sometimes that’s more important than sitting through my lectures.”