Stand Present: The Issue with College Attendance

Donna Wood
Staff Writer

Opinions_Stand at Attendance_Donna Wood_Flickr_ Luke Jones

Photo credit: Luke Jones/Flickr

For years, college was always described to me as an education system where the student was on their own. Unlike high school, instructors do not remind their students to do the right thing. Instead, the decision lies with the students because they are recognized as responsible adults who have the capacity to make their own decisions, regardless of the consequences that may come of those actions.

However, UNCG and other universities employ attendance policies restricting how many days a student can miss before they will be penalized. These policies are contradictory do not suit a college setting, and adults should be held liable for their actions.

The instructors and the universities are already getting paid, so if one wishes to waste their money by skipping class, why shouldn’t they? Regardless of one’s personal preference, my distaste with attendance policies lies with the fact that even though life can throw an abundance of unfortunate events at someone, we are only given a few days chance to recover.

In other words, I can catch mononucleosis and stay highly contagious for a week or even up to a month, but I’m only allowed to miss three days according to the university. Three days hardly covers around one incident per semester, and is definitely not enough to cover for if another incident were to occur.

For instance,  I could have a death in the family, something that not only requires me to be physically absent, but has serious mental repercussions, and I’m only granted a certain amount of days for that until my grade is either significantly lowered, or I get dropped from the class.

I’ve known someone who lost their father and couldn’t attend his funeral because the student had already “missed too many days.” This is absurd. One should not feel torn between education and family or personal responsibilities, yet strict policies on attendance can make a student question their priorities and doubt where their loyalties should lie. This should not be the case.

One can still miss a decent amount of days and still get A’s in their classes. What one chooses to do with the class time that they paid for should be up to them. However, a responsible student who is just having a bad year should not be punished for circumstances that are not within their control.

The consequences of an attendance policy violation are enough to cause students further stress by worrying about the effects it will have on their overall performance at the university. As a result, the mental strain that accompanies the demands of guidelines regarding absences will only deter the student’s willingness to succeed, rather than improve their performance in school.

Bad things happen. Death happens. It is a part of the unpredictable, inevitable cycle of life. But punishing someone for missing class over something that they did not ask for is wrong. However, that is not to say that a lecture is not important; it is. Education is a privilege that should be cherished. Nonetheless, it should not be prioritized over one’s mental or physical health, especially if it puts other students at risk as well.

On the other hand, I do understand that, as far as a university is concerned, it is generally up to the instructor whether they will implement a policy regarding attendance, and I have had some very understanding and lenient professors. For example, even though the university has a set policy regarding attendance, an instructor may override this policy by implementing their own policies exclusively for that class.

Some instructors do not implement attendance restrictions for their class at all, whereas others may give a student up to four days without penalty. Despite this, my dissatisfaction lies with those who disregard the inevitable and overlook the universe’s capacity at making people’s lives miserable.

An excused absence should be counted as excused. It should not be something that comes between the student and their own success. Either way, the decision should lie with the student, not the system.

Categories: Columns, Opinions, Uncategorized

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