Pass or fail: I get to choose, not my prof

Most college students have had a professor who grades the student based on his or her attendance. These professors may implement policies that lower a student’s grade by a full letter if he or she

Most college students have had a professor who grades the student based on his or her attendance.

These professors may implement policies that lower a student’s grade by a full letter if he or she misses a couple of classes.

It seems ridiculous to most students to have to ignore a state of illness on a morning when all they want to do is stay in bed. They’re paying to be in school after all.

In situations like that, I go to class anyway. With that attendance policy hovering over my sniffling, sneezing head, I know my hard work can’t save me from failure. It is my presence in class that is crucial.

My eighth grade English teacher used to say, “F work deserves an F, and A work deserves an A.” I missed a lot of school that year. But I always caught up and handed in A work. Mrs. Miller gave me an A that year.The only difference between then and now is that I don’t have $20,000 in school loans left over from elementary
school. I also wasn’t penalized for five absences out of months and months of school. It isn’t right that college students are often being forced to attend class. Of course attendance is important when that desired A is waiting at the semester finish line.

However, we are paying for our education. We are paying for a service. I am paying to be adequately educated and then graded fairly based on my performance in displaying what I have learned. If I miss five classes instead of the four allowed on a class syllabus but still manage to turn in A work, the work is what should matter every time.

People may choose to use their money in whatever way they wish. This should also apply to college students. Everyone wants what they pay for.We’re not paying to be treated like children. Instead of grading students solely on their work, many Temple professors factor in attendance. A few missed classes can make all those grueling nights in the TECH Center worthless.

Not all professors implement an attendance policy. “I try to make class interesting so that students want to come,” said religion adjunct professor Ben Zeller. “I leave it up to them. They’re adults. If they never come to class, they’ll fail themselves. I let them be their own disciplinarians.”

Most Temple students are at least 18, making them legal adults. Most adults can think for themselves and make decisions after weighing the consequences, such as whether to attend a class they are paying for.

Regular attendance in class is definitely one of the most important aspects of a student’s final grade. Most of our work reflects our understanding of the material discussed in class. Students can’t demonstrate on exams what they haven’t been learning in class. Education professor Dr. Michael W. Smith does enforce an attendance policy.

“My thinking is that courses are much more than merely collections of assignments. The discussions, both large-group and small-group, cannot be replicated,” he said.

While the importance of attendance in class is obvious, the question of whether or not professors have the right to penalize students’ grades based on attendance still remains. If a student chooses to miss class regularly and cannot perform efficiently in the class, they are wasting their own (or more likely, their parents’) money.

While advocating good attendance, students also have a right to choose whether they want to pass or fail. We set standards for ourselves when we write papers and take exams. We should be allowed the same license in deciding whether to attend class or to stay in bed, sneezing and hacking away beneath our sheets. Attendance is important, but it should not make the time and work a student puts into a class insignificant.

Kathleen Hager can be reached at

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