When I was in high school, I had a teacher whose motto was, “80 percent of success is showing up.” I hated hearing those words while I was dozing off at my desk, imagining how much more comfortable my bed would be.
I used most of my absent days when I wasn’t sick at all. Instead, I hid in my room playing video games. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much and thought I could pass even if I barely showed up to class.
Even though I got by in high school with this attitude, I had a major change of heart when I started community college. As classes became harder and less-interested students began falling behind, I began realizing how important and valuable my attendance is to the quality of my education.
Now that I’m at Temple, the majority of my professors take attendance, and I respect that. It encourages students to show up to class so they have the best chance at succeeding.
Will Schmenner, a visiting assistant film and media arts professor, expects regular attendance from his students and enforces it as a policy.
“It’s a good habit for the class to be in, and it reminds everyone that I expect and care about them being present,” Schmenner said. “It reinforces another reality, sometimes showing up matters quite a bit, like in entry-level courses.”
Dana Saewitz, the advertising department chair, said that by requiring students to attend class, she’s teaching them skills they’ll need to succeed in life.
“It’s not as much about grades as it is perseverance, about reliability, about having a trustworthy relationship with your colleagues and clients,” Saewitz said. “Attendance is the most essential part of that mix.”
I agree with Saewitz, and I’m glad I learned this lesson before I graduate and begin looking for a job.
Showing up to class isn’t just for the sake of earning a satisfactory attendance grade. It also gives students opportunities to expand their minds by communicating with others and mastering course material. If professors allow students to slack on showing up, they might not get that experience.
And while we are paying thousands of dollars to attend these classes, we should make it a point to get the most out for our money.
Claire Neal, a junior biology with teaching major, agrees.
“I understand that attending every class or as many classes as possible is a very important part to getting a good education and to getting good grades,” Neal said. “So I understand that some professors make attendance graded because they want to incentivize students coming to class.”
Most of all, an attendance policy is important because it shows professors which students actually take class seriously and make it a priority to attend.
“It’s the students who don’t show up because they overslept, or because they were out late the night before, or because they just don’t care,” Saewitz said. “They’re the ones that deserve to be marked absent and to pay the penalty in their grade.”
I do not think it’s fair for students who show up only some of the time to have the same opportunity to ace the class as those who are always there. That’s why it’s only fair that those who come to class and engage with the professor get the best chance at passing.
“I wouldn’t say that a student should have their grade lowered from missing like two or three classes,” said Ryan Aly, a junior media studies and production major. “But if they’re just not showing up and just trying to skip by in class, they should be penalized for that.”
“I think students should only be allowed a certain number of absences,” Aly added.
Missing a class when you have a professor who takes roll isn’t the end of the world. In fact, showing up to class regularly allows your teacher to get to know you so that they can sympathize with you if something comes up.
“If students come to me or my colleagues, we’ll support them in general if they have legitimate medical or equally serious personal issues,” Saewitz said.
The reality is when we go out into the working world, no employer is going to be happy with a staff member who does not care much for coming to work.
In the real world, there are real consequences for failing to be where you are supposed to be. And no amount of extra credit points or goodwill with a professor can replace effort.