OPINION | Professors shouldn’t grade attendance

It is common for professors to include attendance in students’ grades. Bailey Chism says it is not fair for students to suffer if they need to miss a day of class. Photo curtesy of Unsplash.

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Professors should take into account students’ lives before making attendance part of our grades. 

We’ve all dealt with those professors who count our attendance in our final grade, but they never take into account what can be going on in students’ lives at these times. 

As students, it is our responsibility to come to class and participate in discussions, but our professors shouldn’t be able to hold our grades over our heads in order to get us to show up. We enrolled in the classes by our own choice, we signed up for them for a reason.

Some students are paying for these classes out of their own pocket, if we don’t show up, it’s our own fault, but this shouldn’t drop our grades. For those students who are on scholarships or have their tuition paid by someone else, they shouldn’t feel scared to lose any money because of a grade drop due to missing class. Attendance is not the important part, the knowledge of the class is which can sometimes be gained outside of class; we don’t have to be there every single day.

Students should not be penalized for taking a day off or getting something important done that couldn’t be done another time. 

An Odyssey article stated, “Going to class is important and you will not pass if you do not go, but let me make that decision on my own.”

Of course, going to class is important and we shouldn’t waste our money by never showing up, but that should be our decision to make, not our professors. 

There are days I wake up feeling burnt out with no motivation to do daily activities, but I have classes that my professors grade attendance. So, even though I need a day for myself to recuperate, I drag myself to those classes and can’t even focus on the lesson. Students feeling burnt out leaped from 31% in August 2020 to 71% this past April. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America study, Gen Z adults ages 18 – 23 reported significantly higher stress levels than other generations.

On the tough days, it is not helpful to me or the class to be there because I can’t contribute anything to it. There are also those students who show up to class and sit on their phones or computers the entire time. They get the grade for showing up, but don’t gain any knowledge from the class. 

“There is, of course, no guarantee that the ubiquitous attendee wasn’t an accomplished daydreamer or a back-row socialite,” said Jay Sterling Silver from Inside Higher Ed.

For those professors who grade attendance, there is no way of knowing if that would actually help the class. If they are big on participation and attendance, they’ll have a plethora of students show up and not contribute anything or disrupt the class. 

All students care about are their grades, they wouldn’t register if they didn’t, but we all have days that we need to step back and take the day off; that shouldn’t be reflected in our grades.

Professors never know what’s going on in our lives, they can never be sure we didn’t have an emergency or sickness that takes us away from school. Even if it is just a mental health day, they shouldn’t be able to hold our grades over our head to get us to show up. 

Columnist Cecile Truong from The Pitt News stated, “Personally, I think that if I miss a couple of classes, but still demonstrate that I know the class material by getting good grades on projects and tests, a professor shouldn’t punish me.”

As long as we are getting good grades on assignments and exams, showing that we do know what is being taught, we shouldn’t be punished for missing a day or two. Being absent for some classes doesn’t make us bad students, we just know when we need to take a day for ourselves. 

Attendance does not prove our knowledge, it doesn’t affect how we do in school. It may be helpful to be in class for the extra knowledge, but it is up to us to decide if that’s what we want to do.

Professors should encourage attendance, give extra credit opportunities for coming to class, but never dock our grades because of it.