Class Attendance in College – Do they really matter?

Last Updated on June 30, 2022 by David Shaw

Are Class Attendance Important or Necessary in College?

In college, attendance in class is unlike in middle or high school anymore. Realistically, you will often find students can be skipping classes erratically as they like, which actually is pretty normal. However, such behavior may make you wonder, is class attendance in college really necessary?

In most cases, attendance in college is not mandatory or a necessity. Especially today, students who prefer self-paced learning only attend classes for important things like taking quizzes, participating in group work, or just taking exams as they come and go. However, poor attendance can hurt your grade.

Your attendance in class is normally only an issue if you miss out on important work like quizzes, in-class assignments, or midterms that will significantly hurt your grade. Below, we’re gonna talk more about what you should know about class attendance in class.

Attendance Is Not Mandatory in Colleges

law hammer

There is no mandate in place, at least for American Universities, stating that attendance is compulsory in college. However, college instructor always has the right to impose attendance policies, which can directly impact your grades negatively if you have poor attendance.

Based on many opinions the majority of people in the academia industry with years of experience from forum discussion sources like Quora, you find a good amount of people agreeing to the fact attendance is not entirely necessary. However, one caveat is that this opinion might not be true for all majors of studies.

For instance, missing one or two Calculus classes might have different consequences as compared to a slightly more difficult Engineering class. In other words, it just logically requires more knowledge and time to learn and absorb more difficult subjects like Engineering as compared to English Literature. And sometimes, missing a week of classes in difficult classes is enough to under prepare you for the upcoming quiz or midterm.

– The Importance Is Attendance Is Purely Subjective

You will find peers and students that are just far more effective they learn at their own pace as opposed to sitting in lectures and hearing things they already know. If the lecture materials bore them, enough to make their small actions disrupt other classmates’ attention, then that wouldn’t be good for the performance of the class as well. It’s just that for some students, they can more effectively learn and do well in classes not by attending physical lectures.

Most Instructors or University Faculties Mind Poor Attendance

large lecture hall

Some professors that are busy juggling between their research studies while also having to lecture large classes simply won’t waste their time or resources worrying about students’ attendance. Attendance won’t likely be the main factor affecting the overall grade distribution. Once you’re in college long enough, you should begin to realize even school faculties and departments won’t be really bothered by a few students with bad attendance or classes that generally have low attendance rates for certain reasons. Truth is, if your attendance is not disrupting the class, (which is almost always the case) then attendance should be the least of your concern unless your instructor explicitly mentions it.

Disciplinary Actions

You’re in college now, disciplinary actions don’t work the same in high school anymore. You’ll never hear college students being sent to the principal for being a nuisance in class anymore. In terms of disciplinary actions, colleges and universities would only take action if a student has done something bad enough to tarnish their reputation very badly. Otherwise, universities simply won’t bother wasting resources and time on things like bad attendance, because you’re well old and mature enough to take care of yourselves!

What are some “Excusable” Reasons for Missing Class?

Other than presenting a ‘doctor’s statement’ that backs the claim that you’re unwell to miss a few classes, there are a lot more excusable reasons which you should know that can help you make up for missed class and work.

  1. Religious holidays
  2. Job or Internship interviews
  3. Active participation in official university events
  4. Field trip related assignments
  5. Religious holidays
  6. Military service reasons
  7. Athletic competitions
  8. Legally required court appearances (Jury duty, etc)

Active Participation in Class Is Better Than Poor Attendance

friends in a team doing work

If you’re one of them who’ll likely have the tendency to skip classes often, your participation in class should still always be prioritized. Good participation in class simply means you are well informed of all the dates for quizzes, and midterms as well as any updates to any changes or logistics in the class. All this can easily be done if you can get maintain good communication about the class through a classmate or with the instructor through email or any other suitable forms of communication.

As college students, you should be mature enough to plan out schedules for yourself, as well as the exercise the basic responsibilities of participation activies in the lecture.

It is understandable and normal that for some classes, attendance for lectures wouldn’t be as effective when compared to self-study. However, some classes do require your participation in order to receive grades. For instance, it would only be responsible and considerate of students to attend the class for group assignments that require communication between their groupmates to ensure things are done properly.

For classes like this, what I recommend is always get hold of your teammate’s number as the primary method of communication, because there can be fewer excuses made if you were to use other communication tools like Discord, Slack, Messenger, and many more.

Some Instructors Let Your Overall Performance Do the Talk

graph on paper with increasing data

I find that most often the case, more experienced instructors are considerably lenient and understanding towards students with poor attendance. In today’s society, many students might be working several jobs or have other adult responsibilities in between college, and sympathetic instructors are willing to accommodate and work with the students with poor attendance.

As for the smart students, instructors probably wouldn’t be bothered by their poor attendance if they’re doing really well in quizzes and midterms, since things are probably made easier for both ends.

Some instructors are even kind enough to bump up their students’ grades if their performance has proven that they’re putting in their best effort for the class, especially in exams nearing the end of the term. After all, some instructors try to do this as a gesture to show their kindness or give students a little motivation.

Just to be mindful that if you’re skipping classes a lot, don’t always expect professors to always be friendly towards any of your requests. To some instructors, they view the conduct of poor attendance in students as very disrespectful, while there are also others that are totally cool with it.

Final thoughts

As a college once, there are certainly many classes that which I felt I could learn better without needing to attend lectures. Especially for a very generic class, you will almost always see the same materials taught everywhere else with even better explanations and examples. The thing is that if you realize you’re relying on outside sources and materials more than your own lecture, it is a good indicator that attendance is not really necessary.

David Shaw

I enjoy blogging about the college experience, teaching people how to navigate and hack their way through college. I also enjoy promoting financial literacy among young individuals.

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