Strict Class Attendance Stifles Students

One of the main draws of the University of San Diego is small class sizes. By capping classes at 30 or 35  students it ensures that even in a larger USD class, students can be seen as individuals and not simply as a number in a 500-person lecture hall.

While most students enjoy this more intimate classroom setting there is one downfall for those with less than perfect attendance.  It is certainly noticeable when someone is missing from class.

For most people, this isn’t a problem, but for those that miss a couple days here or there for vacation, sickness, a family obligation, or simply a stellar beach day, noticeable absences can be a real issue due to harsh attendance policies enacted by some professors.

Many of these policies mean that students who miss more than one or two classes can have their grade dropped by an entire letter grade for subsequent absences. In some cases, they can even fail if they miss enough class.

It’s completely understandable for professors to want students in class, and it is common knowledge that students that regularly attend class perform better. However, that responsibility  should be left up to the student.

Senior Gaby Mendoza noted that sometimes attendance    is  out of your control.

“I think professors shouldn’t have strict attendance policies simply becasue life happens,” Mendoza said. “Sometimes your car breaks down, there’s an emergency you have to take care of, etc.”

In certain cases, attendance policies are totally understandable and justified. For instance, labs, art, theater, writing, and public speaking classes rightfully require attendance, since participation and in-class work make up the majority of a student’s grade.

However, in lecture-style core classes that aren’t largely discussion based, students may be able to perform just as well by simply reading and completing assignments. They shouldn’t be penalized if they decide to miss class.

While it may be the case that going to class regularly is the best option, being in college is supposed to come with a certain amount of freedom. These attendance policies limit that freedom.

Senior Shelby Heath thinks attendance should be the student’s responsibility.

“I don’t think teachers should have strict attendance policies,” Heath said. “It’s up to the student whether they want to try and get a good grade  in the class. By going to class, they are setting themselves up for better grades. If [students] go to class willingly, they are more likely to participate and get something out of the class than if they are only going because they have to.”

By no means should professors offer make up work or go out of their way to catch up students who have fallen behind because of missed class. Students shouldn’t be drastically penalized for missing a couple of classes either. Forfeiting some participation points here or there or missing a pop quiz is one thing, but having your grade drop by a whole letter for missing just one extra class seems a bit dramatic.

By creating blanket policies that essentially force students to come to class if they want any hope of a good grade, professors are extrinsically motivating students to show up and taking the control away from the students.

College is supposed to be a time of growth, and an opportunity to take responsibility for one’s self.  When professors call roll and mandate attendance, some of this responsibility is taken away from the students. While it may not seem like a huge deal to enforce attendance, these policies are a setback. For students trying to get the hang of time management and their newfound independence, these attendance policies ultimately don’t make for a motivated classroom.

Written by Dani DeVries, Opinion Editor