A: Who knows. I don’t get it. College students are adults so why are we professors treating them like high school students?
Q: But don’t you care if students come to class?
A: I think they should come for their own good, but, no, I don’t personally care. I get paid whether they come or not.
Q: But if they don’t come to class, they won’t succeed, right?
A: If my students don’t show up, one of two things will happen:
- They fail my class. This is the most common outcome by far and I have neither pity nor sympathy for students who fail because they were never in class.
- They pass anyway. More power to them! If they can read the textbook and figure it out on their own, that’s cool with me. My job is to ensure that students who pass my class are prepared for the next class in the sequence.
Q: But shouldn’t we be giving our students more than just a prerequisite for future classes?
A: Yes, of course. And for the students who care, my classes offer enrichment and beauty. The students who don’t show up and pass anyway don’t care about that. I’m happy to move them on to a higher-level course where they can be challenged at an appropriate level. At any rate, I would be quite the hypocrite to expect otherwise. As an undergraduate, I missed plenty of classes and still graduated summa cum laude. I knew my limits and I knew how to prioritize. One semester, I had a stupid course at 8:00 a.m. for one credit hour. On the first day, I found out that 100% of the grade was the final exam, so I never went back to class again. I got the assignments online the week before the exam, did them the day before the exam, and then showed up and aced the final exam. I’m not bragging; I’m simply pointing out that I need not get in the way of students who are capable of doing this. It is also not my job to be a truancy officer for those students who are incapable of such careful self-assessment.
Q: Why can’t we expect students to come to class every day? Aren’t we preparing them for the “real world” where they will have to show up everyday?
A: No, the professor is working in the “real world” and so he or she must show up every day. Students pay to come to college, so it’s their own money they’re throwing away (or more likely their parents’ money). Again, I get paid whether they come or not. When I start paying to go to work, I too will get to dictate what days I show up.
Q: Shouldn’t we find ways to motivate students to come to class? Maybe like scheduling a huge midterm on the Wednesday night class right before the Thursday of Thanksgiving?
A: If you want to be a dick, fine. As the professor, you have the prerogative to do this. Just cut it out with all your, “Back in my day…” stories. You hated being in school the night before Thanksgiving the same as everyone else. Quit kidding yourselves into thinking you never slept through a class as an undergraduate or never skipped class on the first nice day of spring. If you can’t relate to students on this point, you are socially retarded. Don’t blame this unfortunate condition on your “lazy” undergraduates.