Doing away with mandatory attendance | The Triangle

Doing away with mandatory attendance

Photograph by Kaylee Scheidegg for The Triangle

Mandatory attendance policies in college are not as useful or necessary as most professors and administrators think. A university should not be responsible for ensuring a student’s success, but rather the individual paying tuition should be obligated to make smart decisions and determine whether or not going to class is important.

Most of the syllabi at Drexel enforce the concept that any number of missed classes over 10 percent, or two classes per term, will result in a reduction of the student’s grade. The attendance policy differs in certain departments and with different professors; however, Drexel University’s policy insinuates that more than two excused absences is grounds for deduction of grade points.

Furthermore, nowhere in the attendance policy on the institution’s website does Drexel administration address the issue of mental health days, especially not in terms of these necessary days for students as possible excused absences. There has recently been an increase in college students nationwide dealing with varying mental health issues. As a result of this increase, many students feel overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, and thus their attendance for certain classes is affected.

Depression and anxiety often result in numerous behavioral, cognitive and mood symptoms, including insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, mood swings and lack of interest in normal activities, in addition to countless others. If a large percentage of students are experiencing these — or similar symptoms — on our campus, it could make attending class or doing classwork extremely difficult and strenuous. However, many students are forced to amplify their symptoms unintentionally because the fear of low or failing grades as a result of poor attendance hovers over their heads.

The issue of mandatory attendance could be changed; it is not state or federally mandated that students should be unable to skip class at a university — especially not a private one. Making attendance optional is a new and effective idea that enables professors to treat their students like adults and encourages them to make positive decisions in their own best interest without the threat of academic penalty. I have had a few professors here at Drexel who do not enforce the “typical” attendance policy outlined by the school. For these classes, I attended class as I saw fit. I also did extremely well because I was able to prioritize my emotional and mental health, as well as additional classwork and a part time job, as I thought was best for me. I am an adult, I pay tuition and the outcome of my dedication and work should be a reflection of what I learned and retained, not how many classes I attended per quarter.

In these sorts of classes, it should be noted that a majority of the students attend the lectures anyway, despite the seemingly lackadaisical policy, because the academic penalty is eliminated almost immediately. Without the overwhelming pressure, I felt more inclined to make my own choices. If an individual chooses not to attend class or do the appropriate work, the result of their performance will reflect that. It is not the university’s or professor’s responsibility to coddle or bully students into showing up or doing work. This is not high school. This is the real world, the real world  college is supposed to be preparing us for.

Success should not be determined by the number of classes attended, but rather the quality of the work submitted and the knowledge retained by the student. We, as students, are paying a significant amount of money annually, and it should be our choice to decide how we approach learning.