(image credit: Nick Klotz)

Should students be penalized for missing classes they pay for?

If a customer buys a computer software program from Best Buy, but comes home and doesn’t use it, should Best Buy penalize that customer? Of course not. So, why should a student paying for classes be any different when it comes to attendance?

Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) policy states that “being absent and/or late for class may impact a student’s grade, and in the case of excessive absences, may result in failure or the instructor/reviewer withdrawing the student from the course.”

Students must ask themselves if their education is a responsibility or a privilege, or if class time belongs to them or the professor, and whether or not they should receive a penalty for missing classes they’re doing well in.

In the past, a college degree made whoever earned it an attractive contender for employment and put that person above anyone else looking for the same job. Plus, a college education was relatively affordable as it allowed a graduate to at least buy a home after graduating. While a college education is still critical to ensuring a well-paying job today, the job market is over saturated with college graduates.

Even a bachelor’s degree is about as useful as a high school diploma in the eyes of employers in today’s market.

Moreover, the average loan debt for students is nearly $40,000 and rising. This means students are pursuing an education they can’t afford to find a job they won’t get. So, do students still have a responsibly to pursue higher education or does it remain a privilege?

Jon Boroshok, a communications professor at SNHU, says, “students who are privileged enough to go to college have a responsibly to [go to classes].”

While this may be true, most of whom who are lucky enough to go to school still end up having to find a job to make ends meet and maintain some form of social life. These conflicts mean students may not always attend every class, which lowers their grade.

Most agree class time belongs to the student and not the professor. Martin Merchant, a college graduate, says “class time is for the students. It’s their time to learn. Plain and simple.”

Lori Deconinck, a history professor at SNHU, disagrees.

“It’s the professors who put classes together around their schedules.”

Perhaps, professors and students mutually share class time. A student can’t learn without a professor and a professor can’t teach without a student. However, a professor should incorporate class time in a way that compels student to attend.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

This brings up perhaps the most important question: if students can maintain good grades without attending, is penalty necessary? There are plenty of students at SNHU who complete homework, projects, and tests without going to class on a regular basis.

This shouldn’t happen.

Students should not be able to miss class and still gain enough knowledge to maintain a good grade. This reflects poorly of the professor whose homework, projects, and tests should be taken directly from in class activities. This is a growing problem at SNHU and students are taking notice.

According to Jessica Merchant, a SNHU student, “most professors utilize recycled PowerPoints and quizzes that can be easily found online by students, who then have no need to show up.” Students who are paying for a class that is just as effective as online class shouldn’t receive a penalty by treating it as such.

However, most of these students get points taken off their grade for missing classes. If the point of class is to learn material and the purpose of homework, projects, and tests is to show understanding of the material, then what is the student doing wrong? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

Perhaps attendance isn’t as black and white of a topic as one would think. Maybe asking if students should be penalized for missing classes they paid for isn’t the right question.

The point is, the education system in the U.S. is broken.

College shouldn’t be the main way to earn a good job and if it is, shouldn’t put students in a lifetime of debt. But as of now, that’s not the case. In the meantime, students should make the most of their time in college, but professors should make that possible.

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