Students should be graded only on their overall academic performances, not on their attendance in the classroom.
It has been about a month since school started, and many students are now beginning to feel the pain of class attendance policies. However, much of this pain is unnecessary and, frankly, unfair.
According to the Texas State Financial Aid website, the average yearly student tuition and fee costs for 15 hours each semester total $8,770 for a Texas resident without financial aid. For students, a couple thousand dollars may be enough to buy seats in their classes, but the funds are apparently not enough to afford a few absences without academic penalty.
When students drop that kind of cash for tuition and fees, they should be entitled to a few rights with the purchase. When buying a house, a person is not penalized for how he or she chooses to live inside that house. Similarly, students who buy a college education should not be told how to use it.
For some students, it is necessary to attend class more frequently to make a passing grade. But if other students can pass a class while only showing up for the tests, then more power to them. Conversely, if a student fails a class because of a lack of attendance, he or she still should not be penalized for their absences.
It is not the responsibility of instructors or the university to make sure every student spends their tuition and fee money well. Faculty need only instruct and collect their salaries. Of course, instructors should still have freedom to teach a class in their own way. Many instructors who choose not to have attendance policies instead decide to implement daily quizzes. This is a good way to encourage attendance without forcing it.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding those who have perfect attendance. The line is only crossed when skipping class begins to be penalized, making it impossible to pass with more than four absences.
Furthermore, who is to say what excuses are legitimate or not? Sometimes, students are too tired or hung-over to get out of bed. Documentation cannot be provided for either of these excuses.
A student cannot get a doctor’s note for “being too tired,” but that does not make it a less valid reason for missing class. Also, there is not much reason for forcing a hung-over student to attend class aside from pure sadism. Likewise, overly sleepy students have little to gain in attempting to sleep through lectures on undersized desks.
Even students who skip class in favor of surfing Facebook all day should not be penalized for their absences. Forcing uninterested students to come to class penalizes students who are interested in spending their tuition well. There is nothing worse than straining to hear a lecture over a row of girls giggling at a Facebook status.
Although many instructors have noble intentions by practically forcing students to show up for class, it is ultimately not the responsibility of anyone but the student for how his or her time and money is spent. Faculty and departments should reconsider treating students like the adults they are and revoke unnecessary attendance policies.
—Savannah Wingo is a mass communications sophomore.