Comm 170, Indoors Social Distancing

Students masking and sitting distanced from each other during class in Biobehavioral Health Building at Penn State University, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. This is a hybrid class where the instructor divides 105 students into four groups and rotate one group each class to be in-person while the rest participate on Zoom.

When I was a freshman, my first college class was at 8 a.m. and about a 30 minute walk. There would be days where I’d be up late the previous night and simply not have the will to make it across campus.

It wasn’t too difficult of a course and was pretty intuitive for me to complete just by reading the textbook outside of class. I noticed, however, attendance was being graded every day and negatively impacting my grade.

While the course syllabus did say attendance is graded, I thought it was fairly strange the professor made attendance so important — it wasn’t high school anymore.

As I’ve gone through two full years of college now, many of my classes have required attendance, and not attending has dropped my grades a fair amount.

Part of college and being an adult is taking personal responsibility for your actions. Ultimately, the majority of students are paying for college and aren’t on scholarships. If we choose not to go to class, it’s our own waste of money and our choice.

Why should professors even bother wasting time getting upset with students who don’t show up to class? They clearly don’t want to be there and aren't the students worth focusing on.

Even when my grades drop a bit from missing classes, I’m not any more or less encouraged to go in every day. Yelling at students and asking why they haven’t been to class won’t phase them.

If I miss a class or don’t show up, it should negatively impact my academic achievement by way of lower test scores or incomplete homework — not a grade for simply not showing up and sitting in a seat.

There’s the argument that we'll be required to show up to work every day as an adult in the real world and cannot choose to go in when we please. Therefore, attendance in classes would be a good way to reinforce that.

While there may well be some truth that attending all your classes will build good habits for the workplace, an employer pays you to go to work. Penn State doesn’t pay their students for attending class.

The best way for teachers to treat students like adults and prepare them for the real world is to let them take responsibility for their academics. This means putting the onus on students to show up to classes and let them decide if they’re willing to miss a day and prepare for the negative consequences.

This is a decision for students to make, not professors.

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