Monday, January 28, 2013

To Go, Or Not To Go

Alex Newby, Marketing Intern

In college, the first day of each semester is arguably the best. You’re finally ready to get back into the swing of things, you’re one more semester closer to finishing, and almost every class is short, sweet, and to the point. Syllabus Day, as students have deemed it, is a day to relax, make some friends in the class, and find out what the upcoming semester will hold for you—including how many classes you’re allowed to miss.

Each year, the attendance policy is one of the first things that students look at. Are the notes online? Will the class be hard? Do I have to come if its not? Depending on the answers, and your view on attendance, Syllabus Day could be the first and last day you attend. But is skipping classes justified? We took a look at the debate.

Excuse # 1 – “ The class is boring, and I can teach the material to myself a lot easier.”

We’ve all been in those classes that seem like they drag on forever. The professor has one pitch and the PowerPoint slides are filled from top to bottom with notes no one can understand. In these situations, especially if attendance isn’t taken, it’s hard to make yourself want to come to class. However, being there might just be what’s most important. Woody Allen once said,"Eighty percent of success is showing up." Learning real-life course material and hearing anecdotes in class may be even more helpful than facts found in textbooks or on PowerPoint slides.

 “The classroom is the easiest place for students to learn,” said UK 101 Peer Instructor Stephanie Anderson. ”It’s always hard to make yourself read or study during your free hours, but if you just go to class, your instructor tells you what’s important and what to expect on the test.”

Excuse #2 - “The professor doesn’t take attendance, he or she will never know I wasn’t there.”

It’s true that in large lectures, it can be difficult for professors to get to know students or know when they are skipping class or not. However, some professors use alternate attendance methods throughout the semester. For instance, my sophomore year Astronomy professor gave the class random quizzes throughout the semester using a clicker system. If you were there, the questions were easy and the quiz was virtually “unfailable”, if you weren’t, however, you missed the easy points. These points can add up and can sometimes be the difference between an A and B.

Excuse #3 – “This class isn’t even in my major so it doesn’t matter if I go.”

Each class, despite your major, will count towards your overall GPA. This can be a huge factor in determining whether or not you are even accepted into your future program and/or grad school. Plus, skipping class means that you have less of an opportunity to get to know the professor, and more importantly, for the professor to get to know you.  This may not matter much now, but in the future when you’re applying for scholarships, study abroad trips, or graduate school, you’ll need teacher recommendations. Making a connection with more teachers now will give you more options for great recommendations later. One of my greatest teacher recommendations came from my professor in a Gen Ed class that I struggled in. After visiting her in office hours, and attending every class, I was able to get to know her well and she could vouch that I was willing to work hard for a good grade. On the other hand, if you’re skipping smaller classes, the teacher will notice and will be less likely to want to tell others what a great student you are. 

Excuse #4 – “ I’m paying for school so I should be able to decide if I go or not”

Below is a chart of tuition rates for undergraduates at the University of Kentucky. Using the numbers that relate to your specific situation to calculate the cost of each class meeting.

1. Divide the tuition that pertains to your situation by the number of credits you are taking this semester to calculate per credit costs.
2. Multiply that number by 3 for the number of credits earned for any individual class.
3. Divide that number by the number of class meetings this semester.
            a. 30 for TR classe
            b. 45 for MWF classes

You’ve now found the amount of money you’re wasting for every class you miss!

Per Semester Full-Time Tuition and Fees
Undergraduate Lower Division
Undergraduate Upper Division
 This means, depending on your status, you’re spending between $18 - $82 per class. While it’s true that you have the freedom to decide whether or not you go, any excuse to miss class better be worth this amount of money to you. Somehow the nap you desperately desire or the lunch date with friends during class time seems a little less important.

Excuse # 5 – “I’m way too busy to go to class.”

You’re behind in another class, you need to go to the bank, and you really need to start on job applications for the summer. You’re just too busy today to go sit in class for a few hours. According to Timothy Kroboth, a student columnist for the Kentucky Kernel, students still have plenty of time. “You may protest that your time is too valuable to attend class, but consider that a week has 168 hours. If you carried 15 credit hours and went to every class, you would have 153 hours left to do whatever you wanted every week.”  That’s 153 hours to cram in all the “me” time any student could possibly want.
Also, consider the time that you would have to spend outside of class catching up on the things you missed. Skipping eventually can become a habit and students almost always have to expel more effort trying to recover and catch up then they would have if they had just gone to class.

TimothyKroboth's Kentucky Kernel Article

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