Attending class must be priority for students

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As the end of the semester approaches, it is important for students to remember they are generally better off attending class than not.

Temptations to skip class can take on many forms, some more reasonable than others. Barring legitimate illness and family disasters, however, almost all desire to skip stems from laziness or overconfidence. Students who say they can pass every test without attending lectures, a common but usually dubious claim, are missing the point—by registering for a class, they have already agreed to attend. Students can choose to ignore that agreement, but any consequences of that decision are their own fault, not their teachers’.

Professors do not deserve angry emails and poor reviews for simply caring if students show up to their class. Studies and common sense show that class attendance, mandated or not, leads to better grades and engagement with course content. In a perfect world, grade penalties for repeated skipping would not be needed, but Texas State is not a perfect world—it is Texas State. Negative reinforcement is a necessary evil. Furthermore, the vast majority of class attendance policies are far from unreasonable. Most allow at least two absences with no penalty at all. Outright failing a class purely due to attendance issues generally requires a week or more worth of classes to be missed without any reasonable excuse.

Every student on campus has heard the cry of “I am an adult, it is my decision to be somewhere or not” from the mouths of their classmates or themselves at some point. This is a flawed attitude—adults are required to be places, often against their preference, all the time. Jury duty, the DMV and the workplace are all adult obligations that carry far harsher punishments for skipping out than a few points off a final grade. Claiming adulthood as an excuse for ignoring commitments demonstrates a lack of the exact maturity the claimant is professing.

The excuse that skipping class does not affect anyone but the one skipping does not hold up, particularly for classes with low registration caps that fill quickly. Registering for a class then failing to attend means preventing another student from signing up for that class and actually showing up.

Skipping class is also unfair to the parents, bank or institution paying the student’s way through college. Between family help, scholarships and student loans, very few students are footing their entire college bill completely on their own. Accepting money for tuition then regularly cutting class is a direct waste of other people’s money. At $177 per semester credit hour, a three-hour class that meets twice a week costs roughly $33 per week. While not staggeringly expensive at first glance, that wasted expenditure adds up quickly for a habitual no-show.

The point is simple: Go to class, or do not—but do not accuse professors of acting condescending or unreasonable when they enforce attendance agreements clearly outlined in syllabi at the beginning of the semester. Those rules are in place because professors want students to be there, and that attitude deserves support, not resistance.