Josh LaCroix raises some interesting points in his attendance column in the February 6 edition of The Penmen Press. I’d like to offer a different perspective.
A college class should be like a good concert. Feel the energy of the crowd? It’s not something you can truly experience on a friend’s Snapchat or a YouTube video. You have to be there for the full experience.
Students often say that professors treat them like children by requiring attendance and/or class participation. “This isn’t high school” is the standard argument. You’re right, you’re not kids anymore, but here’s the reality: demanding participation and attendance is actually treating you like a member of the concert audience – or the work force.
In my classes, participation is worth 15% of your course grade. The policy is based on 20 years of business, PR/marketing communications, and journalism experience, and many Bruce Springsteen concerts. Professors should teach from the mosh pit – it’s about what’s happening in today’s competitive business environment. My job is helping my audience/customers – that’s you – develop the skills and work ethic demanded by employers.
Requiring attendance and class participation is treating you as an adult, and holds you responsible for contributing like one. Sing along! Ask and answer questions – show you’re prepared by getting involved.
You can’t blow off a day of work and get the notes from a colleague. That’s like paying for an overpriced concert t-shirt without seeing the show. Get to work on time and make a proactive, value-added contribution. If you’re going to miss work (or class), tell the boss before, not the after you failed to show up.
On most jobs you’ll accrue 10-15 vacation/personal days per year, but many companies won’t let you take one during your first three to six months. Here at SNHU, each class meeting makes up about 4% of our meetings for the semester. Miss three sessions of a class and that’s about 12% of your job not done. That is excessive. No employer allows that – you’d be fired even in a great economy. Would you buy great seats and then stay home? How much do you pay per class session? Don’t throw money away.
As with a job, you are part of a team, and are expected to pull your weight to help make the class lively and interesting. Unless you appear to produce more in value than you cost the company (salary, benefits, team moral, etc.), why would your employer keep you on the payroll?
By the way, don’t fear speaking up or making mistakes in class. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make sure that the opinions expressed, and questions asked, are always treated with respect, particularly when it challenges conventional thinking or the instructor’s own beliefs. Make your mistakes here in an educational environment, so you won’t make them in the unforgiving business world. Participate. Be there. As The Who sang, join together with the band.