Required attendance is key to education

by Brody Burns

During the first weeks of each semester, hundreds of students have to crash classes in hopes they will secure a seat. Too many are left disappointed as class size limits make this endeavor impossible. The ability to matriculate one’s education in four years also disappears, but their increasing financial burden goes nowhere.

Inevitably, a seat in high demand goes unused for the majority of the semester. Numerous seats are going to complete and utter waste as a copious number of students deem certain classes not important enough to attend. Mandatory attendance solves many of these problems and recaptures an educational experience centered on classroom learning, direct communication with peers and a serious dedication to gaining knowledge. At the end of the day, attendance makes education.

Regardless of the source or location of your higher learning, universities aim to impart a depth of knowledge on students. Knowledge in this day and age is too easily replaced with short-term memorization. Memory recall does not equate to learned knowledge, or the ability to critically apply one’s knowledge to a context outside of a scantron sheet. Chances are, real world careers at the end of the diploma will not depend on upon a multiple choice test. The pursuit of this knowledge suffers when a student is not around for class and actively engaging in the learning process with their professors and peers by communicating these learned principles. We can only achieve communicative discourse when we attend class. This is fundamentally important to the overall education process. It is becoming more evident that the education system in America is routinely suffering in comparison to our international counterparts, and short-term memorization is not going to change this fact. Moreover, the larger reputation of the university suffers when graduates are thrust into the real world with no real knowledge of the subject they have supposedly mastered because they have simply shown up twice a semester to fill in the bubbles. It is the responsibility of a university to educate its students, and it is the responsibility of its students to attend classes. If a student does not attend, then they should not pass.

Classes, it seems, have become too inconvenient in the era of internships, careers and other “serious” responsibilities. This shift in priorities is completely nonsensical. By default, students are seeking degrees, accreditations or some quantifiable form of education. This should remain their first priority. Freedom of choice has led all students to this educational setting and, because of this fact alone, attending classes would merely satisfy their ability to fulfill this decision. Education enables a career. If classes don’t fit into your schedule, then school doesn’t either.

The cliché argument that there is no attendance policy outside of K-12 schooling is also true. This hinges upon the fact that truancy in the real world is met with unemployment. If a student cannot apply the minimal dedication of 10-15 hours a week to their own education, something that will only prove to pay continual dividends in the long-term, then where are they going to manufacture the sense of urgency post-graduation? As numerous as the students willing to fill your unused seat in a class are, there are plenty more willing to fill your career if you choose to live by the same pattern of not attending. Pink slips are the only reward for attending one’s career.

Finally, the learning process greatly improves when you’re not sitting in front of a computer, learning solely from a textbook or self-educating. The opportunity to attend class and listen to a well-educated representative of the field lecture is what sets a university apart. How else is a university to distinct themselves from a for-profit, online institution? Where is the difference in the educational value when the means of delivery are exactly the same? What diversity of education exists if a standardized setting and curriculum exist where a student is not required to spend time in the presence of an educator? The school suffers when a student disrespects the institution enough to not attend classes, and the student’s education suffers when not present for the direct, engaging and comprehensive learning process.

When professors enforce attendance policies they are showing true regard for their students, the system of education and the process of learning we undertake. Benjamin Franklin succinctly summarized the value of an education by stating “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Attendance is key to this investment.

—Brody Burns is a graduate student seeking his master’s in business administration.

—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.