Should attendance in class affect college students’ grades?

College Grades

By Dan Mesure And Zack Barangan

With increasingly busy lifestyles, college students are less likely to attend each and every class. Should professors attempt to stifle this trend by making classroom attendance mandatory?


POINT: Yes, attendance in class should affect college students’ grades.
By Zack Barangan, Unigo Editor

Mandatory class is a term that makes most students tremble with a mix of overpowering laziness and fear. The mere thought of attending every single class for an entire semester is pretty much the most terrifying thing ever for unsuspecting undergrads. Being responsible for attendance? The horror, the horror!

But take a second to think the unthinkable. Is mandatory class really that bad? Short answer: no, it’s not. Look, this isn’t support for the fascist attendance policies that some professors and teachers enforce with an iron fist. At the risk of sounding like a parent sporting the “I’m Not Mad, I’m Disappointed” face, students need to take some responsibility and take their educations seriously.

See, once that tuition check is written out to the university, all the responsibility lies in the students’ hands. It’s no longer about the check. It’s about how seriously they take their educations. At the core of this issue is respect. Respect for your own endeavors, respect for your parents (who have, no doubt, worked pretty hard to help get you to college), and respect for your professors, who are just trying to do their jobs.

It's really simple. Teachers teach their classes and students go to them. Going to class is part of being a student. If students’ attitude is that they can learn everything from a textbook and one Red Bull-fueled all-nighter, then why attend college in the first place? Sure, it’s all about the grade. But at a certain point, you (the student) have to ask yourself why you’re paying top dollar to attend a fine institution of higher learning. Going to class and being able to interact with fellow students and a professor in an academic setting is an opportunity, and it’s a damn shame if you don’t take advantage. Besides, there is no way any students will be able to get their money’s worth by simply reading the textbook.

In a perfect world, all students would subscribe to this mantra and always attend class. But students are by and large a lazy group of human beings, so is it so terrible if a teacher makes attendance mandatory? Having an extra “A” for attendance could be the easiest break you get all semester, so you should take all the help you can get.

If a student wants to use the “I’m an adult, I should make my own decisions,” argument, then think of it this way: college students are one of the few groups of people in all of society that are somehow allowed to skip their duties on a whim. High school students are required to go to class every day; employees are expected to go to work every day. And guess what? If they start skipping work whenever they want, they are penalized.

It’s not like attending class is even that hard. I’m sure you can take the time between sleeping and partying to, y’know, be a student for a little while. Classes are, what — one, MAYBE two, hours long? Titanic was longer than that, and if you can sit through that crap, you can definitely make it through class.


COUNTERPOINT: No, attendance in class should not affect college students’ grades.
By Dan Mesure, Unigo Editor

Education is like any other service you pay for. Paying a professor to teach a class is no different than paying a barber to cut your hair or a real-estate agent to help you buy a house. If students pay for the service of education, it is up to them whether they chose to attend class.  

Although a professor’s job is to teach and inspire young minds, the student’s tuition check is paying for a degree, not a babysitter.  As long as students show they’ve mastered the material through their coursework, it is not professors’ responsibly to keep constant tabs. 

Students are clients of the university and the way they use that service is up to them. If students can simply read a book to obtain their desired grades, there is no reason why they should waste their time in class.

The only students that may be obligated to attend class would be those under scholarship. In such a situation the students have a contract with the school; if they fail to meet the criteria, the school has every right to revoke the scholarship. 

College is supposed to be a time when students learn about responsibility.  What better way to teach young adults about making decisions than leaving attendance in their hands? It’s a simple lesson in business (which I learned from a microeconomics book): strive to minimize cost and maximize profit.  If students can study for a test for one hour and get the grade they desired, doing any more work would be a waste of time.

If professors really want to keep attendance rates up, there are a couple of simple solutions: 

  1. They should give original information, not regurgitated material from an overpriced book.  If a student can get a good grade without showing up to class, it is a testament to the teacher’s hackneyed ideas.  Every class should be a lesson, not a reading you could get at any Barnes & Noble.
  2. They should have graded assignments due every class. More class assignments would actually provide tangible evidence of students’ failure to complete coursework than absent checkmarks next to their names in a roll book. While some professors already practice such methods, others would never want to be bothered grading assignments every day. 

It still comes down to the fact that the university and its professors are employed by its students, and if students are smart enough to blow off class and play Xbox all day, more power to them.


The opinions in these pieces do not represent those of Unigo.