Why Mandatory Class Attendance is a Sham/by Meredith Stratmann

The age-old discussion surrounding class attendance is one that likely will never die. As a senior, each year I find myself more and more annoyed with mandatory class attendance.

 Let me start by saying that I am not a school person. I do not have an innate love for learning, nor do I enjoy doing assignments or attending class. Working has always appealed more to me than school, mainly because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and I can see how I was productive. With school, it’s possible to study 20 hours for a test and still get a C, and I find that extremely disheartening. 

In the same vein, I do not believe in mandatory class attendance. I am a visual learner. Most of my classes involve PowerPoints, many of which lack pictures or words. For me, a professor reading over the slides and further discussing the content does not make the material stick. I have no issue with professors teaching in this way; I understand that classes are lecture-based and that the aural, logical, and verbal learners all may benefit from this style. I just find it difficult to learn in that way.

Because I fail to retain much of what is taught in class, I end up spending a significant amount of additional time re-learning the material. It makes it hard to find motivation. Moreover, it increases my stress level. I get upset with myself for not retaining the material the first time, and then I have less time for other assignments and activities because I have to re-learn the material. If I didn’t have to go to class and could set aside the same amount of time each day to study and learn the content, I would save myself hours and lower my stress level.

I do want to emphasize that my professors do a great job of giving us an abundance of resources, including key textbook passages, powerpoints, recorded lectures, and outside sources. Because the information is so easily accessible, and often I have to re-teach myself anyway, I think that class should be optional. If I can teach myself the information with the resources I’ve been given, retain the information well, and score highly on exams, I truly do not see why I am required to go to class. 

My final argument in why attendance should be optional is that we’re paying to be here. If I am paying to attend class, why am I being punished for not going? Faculty is still being paid, and the resources are still made available. 

I get that mandatory class attendance is beneficial for some students. If you are a student that learns by listening, asking questions, or repeating information, the lecture-style class is probably great. I also understand that mandatory attendance may keep some people from going off the deep end and never showing up. It probably really helps with retention numbers. All in all, I understand why attendance is mandatory, I just don’t agree that it is the best way for every student to learn.

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