Attendance policies in college; a yes or no

By Brittany Rosso

LEWISTON, N.Y.- Attendance policies are put in place in many aspects of our lives and have been for many years. From intermediate school to college and even part-time jobs and careers. Our ability to “show up” has always been graded or monitored in some sense. But why is that? Is it actually necessary?

Photo by Jack Sem licensed under
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In particular, let’s consider the case of college attendance policies. During college, most students are in the age range of 17-30, work at least one part-time job, participate in extracurriculars and like all humans, have to manage their personal lives, emotional, mental and physical health, as well as social aspects. The weight from trying to manage all of these things in addition to college work can easily become overbearing. The fear of losing points off your grade or falling behind due to attendance policies can contribute extra stress.

Some professors list “excused absences only” but also fail to mention legitimate excuses that they will accept without deducting points. While some others allow no absences at all without grade deductions and some offer a certain leeway such as three absences per semester, etc.

So, should attendance policies have the ability to affect your grade? What counts as a legitimate excuse anyway?

In my opinion, attendance policies at the university level are unnecessary. Like all humans, college students get sick, stressed, and mental and physical health conditions affect us just as regularly, if not more than the average person. Some days, you can’t pinpoint a reason as to why you can’t seem to get out of bed, and when it happens, many do not want to reach out to their professor to explain that they aren’t feeling mentally well enough to handle just … being in public. And yes, as far-fetched as it might sound, this happens.

At the cost of our own multi-thousand dollar decision to attend a university, it is in our hands to determine our success and participation in college. If we decide to stay home, do our work from home and work just as well as students that do not miss a day of class, there is no point in having attendance policies. At an age where we can pay our own bills, tuition, drive and own vehicles, own property, join the military, etc., I’m sure we can handle the consequences of missing class.

If a student can get all course requirements fulfilled and still perform at an academic level that displays their willingness to learn, participate and aim to do their best, their attendance should not be judged. It especially shouldn’t have an effect on their grade. We do our best, but sometimes that can feel like it’s not enough.

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