Countless research papers and studies exist that provide solid evidence that students who attend class receive an end result of a much higher grade than those who don’t. However, skipping class is still a constant issue that almost every educational institution faces.
At the collegiate level, skipping a class doesn’t result in much more than a bad grade or a stern slap on the wrist at most. If the skipping lasts all semester, the bad grade will usually turn into a failing grade and the result will be a waste of tuition.
However, there is a specific stipulation in university policy that provides professors with the authority to drop a student from the class roster for skipping the first day of class.
“It makes me think that they’re not the ones paying for it,” said Julia VanderWerff, sophomore in English. “Obviously someone like their daddy is paying for it. Here I am paying for and taking my education seriously. I don’t have a lot of respect for those people.”
The actual rate of skipping would be a near impossible and tireless task to tabulate, and in large lecture classes, taking attendance often becomes more of a distraction than a functional way to assess who attends and who doesn’t.
Some professors, like Michael Lambert, assistant professor of geology, make a specific point to inform students how important attending his lectures is.
“On the first day of class and in my syllabus, I always say students who skip class don’t have the information they need to answer questions on the exam,” he said. “And this semester I have had pretty good attendance.”
Along with the reduction of consequences for missing class from high school to college comes a transition of responsibility from parents to the student. In high school, the parent is held partially responsible for truancy of their child, while in college, 100 percent of the burden lies on the student.
“They’re paying for it,” said Sam Bell, assistant professor of political science. “I would never encourage a student to not show up to class, but the students are adults. If a student is wasting his or her money, it’s a shame they’re doing that, but students, as adults can make their own decisions.”
Based on testimonies from professors, the frequency of skipping correlates directly to both class size and the level of student involvement in class on a daily basis.
“When you have pop quizzes, you will have a fuller classroom,” said Bell. “When you don’t have pop quizzes, you’re not going to.”
Professors also report that smaller class sizes impact how many students show up to class. When the class is smaller, the expectation of participation on each student increases, which also increases their incentive to attend. The typical cause for this is students are both more likely to be noticed if they are missing, and the class discussion becomes a more vital part of the lecture.
A common assumption about students who skip their classes are that they either aren’t taking their education seriously, or that they don’t have to pay for it and therefore don’t value it.
“I’ve known girls who will get financial aid money, then take the excess and go spend it on junk, like unnecessary clothes,” said Jen Rowe, senior in fisheries and wildlife conservation biology. “I don’t know if they’re comprehending that. The part where when they graduate, they will be tens of thousands of dollars in debt with nothing to show for it, and they’ll have to pay it all back. When you think about it, that’s really going to suck. I think if someone actually got that into their heads in the first place, they wouldn’t skip.”
Finances are a big part of the opinion of students who don’t attend their classes. Whether they don’t value the amount they are spending or aren’t responsible for the payments, these ‘skippers’ are not highly regarded among the serious academic culture of K-State.
“You know,” said Lambert with a chuckle, “it’s been said that paying for tuition and enrollment is the one place where people don’t want to get their money’s worth.”