While class attendance is very important for academic success and progress in one’s college career, it shouldn’t be a requirement.
The mental health issues college students face have only been compounded by the pandemic, so it is unfair for a professor to determine a student’s grade based on whether or not they are able to make it to class.
The additional pressure of mandatory attendance in order to pass can be extremely nerve-racking and can lead to further stress if those expectations aren’t met.
Many professors at the University of Wisconsin have attendance policies. Usually, a three-credit course will have a policy of three “free” class periods a student can miss before being penalized.
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This means to get a full attendance grade, a student needs to attend 27 out of 30 of the possible class periods. For stricter attendance policies, like many seen in introductory classes taken by freshmen, missing more than three class periods could result in failing the class.
Many of the excused absences offered by these professors, however, only account for physical illnesses and require a doctor’s note. Many of the policies say nothing relating to mental health.
Especially in these times of COVID-19, mental health needs to be a priority for everyone, including students. Attending all classes online, not being able to go out and study in places that used to be open and not being able to see people they used to see can be stressful and harmful to students’ mental health.
Just because classes are online doesn’t mean it is any easier for a student to log into class and be present. Attending all classes from the same place, without a change of scenery, can make many feel trapped in a rut, doing the same things over and over without much change at all.
“For students with mental health issues, the idea that they will have to predict and account for only one or two bad mental health days out of 75 school days in a semester is preposterous,” Abigail Puff said in an article from Butler University.
It is unfair for professors to assume their students will be ready and able to learn every day.
“Even when students are required to attend class, this doesn’t mean they’re participating on any given day,” the Daily Texan Editorial Board said.
Instead of forcing students to be ready to learn at a certain time, letting students determine when is best for them can help ensure they actually understanding the material.
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“A student’s mere exposure to information and instruction in skills does not, in today’s regime, reflect a successful outcome,” Jay Silver said in an article from Inside Higher Ed.
It is also unfair for professors to require students disclose why they were not able to attend class. For some, mental health can be very hard to talk about with someone they don’t trust.
This can cause even more stress for those who miss classes because they know even though they had a perfectly good reason, they may not be able to communicate that with their professors.
“Lowering a student’s grade for missing class often just pours fuel on the fire, as the lowered grade heightens stress levels, throwing the student even deeper into anxiety and depression,” Puff explained.
By removing the possibility of failure from not attending class, students are be able to focus on their own time and actually understand the material.
While it is important for both professors and students to show up to class, college students should be able to choose how they want to pursue their education, without attendance repercussions.
Grace A. Metzler ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in legal studies and social welfare.