Now that you’ve been in college for a short time, you might be asking whether you should attend class or not. It’s an interesting question, especially given that almost all colleges don’t have a universal attendance policy. Moreover, if you’re taking a large class you might reason that no one would even know if you were missing. As a faculty member, and one who teaches large classes at that, I’m going to argue that you should definitely attend class. It’s your individual responsibility; no one’s going to make you go. But if you don’t go, you need to be prepared for any negative consequences.
As far as specific reasons to attend class, here are 6 quick points:
1) Class time should be interesting and fun. You’ll also learn while you’re in class. This is easy for me to say, but any instructor worth your time should be working to make you never even want to miss class. Your instructor should motivate you to show up focused and ready to learn. Although this isn’t always true, most faculty are prepared to work hard to make your class experience something to look forward to.
2) Based on my 27 years of teaching all sizes of classes, I can confidently say that attending class makes you learn more and increases your grade. I’ve found a high positive correlation between attendance and grades—the more students attend class the better their grade.
3) In many classes, like my own, reading your textbook is no substitute for hearing the lecture. Exams are often directly from the lecture and not from the textbook. Therefore, not being in class could significantly impact your grade.
4) Getting notes from your classmates isn’t a good substitute for attending lecture either. The friend you get notes from might take those notes much differently than you, and that might require your classmate to take a long time explaining what they mean.
5) More and more classes are instituting an attendance policy, in-class work (even in large classes), a participation requirement, or all three of these. Every day you might miss means a loss in grade points.
6) When you attend class you are able to interact with others. You get to talk to other students and hopefully make new friends that can last a lifetime. Also, you can talk to your Instructor, finding out more things about the class and what that Instructor is investigating in his or her research.