For years professors and students have discussed and argued over the importance of going to class. Most of these discussions don’t address the root of the issue. If you’re going to talk about whether or not class should be mandatory, they should ask why students would skip class in the first place.
I asked over 40 students if they have ever skipped class before. If they answered yes, I then asked if it was for work reasons, family, appointments, sleep or if it was because they thought the professor’s lecture wasn’t important. The results showed that 42% of the students said they missed class because of sleep. 24% said it was because they thought the professor’s lecture wasn’t important, and 26% said they missed class for all of those reasons stated (I happen to be a part of the 26%).
This leads us to our first question: why would anyone skip class because of sleep? Back in high school, we started class at 8:00am every day. Why is an 8:00am class so hard to make now? Well, college is different then high school. College students’ days are a lot longer, and they use more hours of the day for activities, homework and work. When it comes to sleep, that boils down to the individual. Every human prioritizes what they think is important. If you’re a person that views sleep as important, you make sure that you get enough hours of sleep. You would be less likely to spend those extra hours of sleep on a project or a social event. If you don’t view sleep as important, you would be more willing to spend 2 or 3 more hours on things like projects or work.
In a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I talked about the importance of sleep for energy, but it’s also important for learning.
“If you know that class only puts you to sleep, then why not cut out the middle man altogether? Classes that don’t spark any interest aren’t necessary to attend because without the passion to learn, you can’t learn all that much.” - Steve Coulter, Brobible.com
“Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.” – Division of Sleep Medicine at
Harvard Medical School
The second point made was that 24% of students skipped class because they thought the professor’s lecture wasn’t important. This goes against the common notion that attendance is important for getting good grades.
“Many professors say attendance is necessary to do well, and attendance and course performance are positively correlated. That being said, there would be no need for mandatory attendance, as students seeking high grades will quickly learn that they need to attend the course regularly. Inflating grades with 10-20 percent of your score coming from attendance is a poor judgment of an individual’s competency in the course.” – Sam Artley, Michigan State University
We all understand the importance of attendance when it comes to doing well in a class. At the same time, I can also understand why 24% of students said they skipped class because they thought the lecture wasn’t important. From personal experience, I’ve found that some classes don’t give you an incentive to attend class. If the professor recites material straight from the book, allows no class discussions, and posts all the power points online, then there really isn’t a reason to attend class. I’m smart enough to read the book; I don’t need you to recite it to me. The whole point of going to class is to get material that’s not in the book. I also do the most learning when there are discussions involved. I use those discussions as examples to look back on when I’m taking a test.
So what am I saying exactly? Am I saying it’s ok to skip class? Well, really it’s up to the person. The student is the one who pays tuition. The student is the one who receives the grade, so the student is the one who decides if class is important to attend or not. If you know the consequences for skipping and you believe it’s ok, than you should be free to make that decision. We also have to consider if it’s a class that you’re really interested in, it would be hard to imagine a reason to skip. On the other hand, if it’s a class that you feel that is a waste of time, you would have a hard time imagining reasons to go. It’s all a part of the process of growing up. We get to make decisions for ourselves.
Just a Thought, Devonte Hill