Unlike in high school, in college there are no truancy laws forcing students to attend class. There are no mothers to wake students who sleep through an obnoxious alarm clock.
But some professors include attendance as part of students’ grades, providing for unmotivated students an incentive to attend class.
“I take attendance because I think it’s very, very important to know if students are there because if they are struggling with something and they were there, that means I, as a teacher, need to think of a different way to explain it,” said Catherine Bergman, clinical instructor of flute. “Whereas if they’re not there, they don’t understand it because they didn’t get the explanation in the first place.”
Bergman passes around a sign-in sheet daily, which students sign for credit points. Other teachers, such as Carly Horne, graduate teaching assistant, give attendance points on sporadic days throughout the semester.
“I take attendance every single day, but only 10 days of this semester are for points,” Horne said. “The students don’t know when the points days will be, so it’s important that they come every time because every time could be a points day.”
Other professors hold students accountable for attending class without taking role every class period.
“I don’t want to take the time in class to do it,” said Richard Sleezer, associate professor of physical geography, meteorology and soil science. “Some people are really, really strict about attendance, and they have their reasons. You’re hurting yourself by not showing up to class.”
For some students, professors who keep track of attendance give them motivation to go to class.
“It makes me get up in the morning and go to class,” said Emily Lang, freshman elementary education major. “I’m less willing to skip when I know it’s part of my grade to be there.”
Other students feel that they should be held accountable for their attendance.
“I feel like if a student chooses not to show up to class and fails because of it, that’s their own fault,” said Isaac Mullins, senior elementary education major.
But Hannah Rosenwald, junior sociology major, said she that taking attendance is actually a bit unnecessary.
“I feel like it does help the lower levels to secure attendance and actually provide for some extra points,” Rosenwald said, “but once you reach the junior and senior levels, I think there’s no reason to because the assignments that you have cost so much of your grade, and if you don’t go to class you just won’t do as well, and it’s your own fault by then.”