Columnist discusses class attendance attitudes


Over the course of my school career, I have heard and seen many different mindsets on being early, late or skipping class.

Every professor I’ve had encourages us to attend their classes to learn the material and to participate, as their job is to teach us. It would be hard to teach us if we never showed up for their classes. 

There has been an issue with attendance in university classes, but this is not a new problem. I heard what to expect even before I started university, but it was another thing entirely to see a good portion of my classes in the first couple of years absent.  

As I have begun taking upper level classes, the class sizes have shrunk as they become more specialized. By this point, not only do we need these courses to graduate, but we attend because we are interested in the subject of the class. It is quite the stark difference from the general attitude toward general education classes and one which I think needs to improve.

I have noticed as I have begun taking upper level classes that seeing people never coming to class, or always showing up late, is not quite as common. This is not to say lower level classes are any less important, especially because they form a solid base for you to stand on once you reach the upper levels. 

But there is a general attitude among students that 100-level and even 200-level courses are not that important because they’re the “generals” — the basic courses. The level of difficulty varies between departments and colleges, but the base information is very important. 

I know many students don’t share the same opinion about lower level classes, as I recall in one freshman-level history lecture. The professor hardly took attendance, but still assured us that if we wanted to do well in the course, we needed to attend. Logical, right? 

As a freshman, I attended all but a few of the classes, but it never hit me how many students were in the same class until it came to exam day — nearly every seat in one of the Rotunda lecture rooms was filled. On a typical class day, less than half of them were occupied. 

I wish I had a more specific way to help students consider those general classes as more important. There is a certain amount of laziness in many students that makes attendance to the “less important” classes lacking, but there are also many other things going on in everyone’s lives, and one still cannot fairly generalize a group of 12,000 people. 

Kendra Hinton is an English major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]