Friday, April 7, 2006

Someone Wonders If There's a Limit to How Much Class Students Can Miss, Even if They Have Really Really Good Reasons, Or An Unsual Amount of Bad Luck

I do my best to put myself in the shoes of undergraduate students, new adults, away from home, a little confused about living in a grown up place with grown up rules, but this year I've been plagued by a wide variety of reasons keep students from attending class regularly.

Some of these are the typical "dead Grandma" stories that I've long since learned are about 75% true. (Once I had a dead Grandma story and then a month later was told she had died, saw a white light, then came back to life - thankfully - and then died later, resulting in two absences each time.)

But some are new for me. I'm trying to get my head around what it is we're supposed to do with students who "can't" come to class and do the work. It's so vexing because every student I have - and many advisors on campus & my boss - think that we should move heaven and earth to keep these students in class, on track, fully paid up, and passing.

Here's a sample of this year's stories. You should feel free to play along at home and see how you'd handle them:

  • Fell at the cafeteria, separated a shoulder, took a bunch of physical therapy, which resulted in missing 3 classes, then physical therapist changed times to coincide with my class, and missed 3 more. Still wants to finish semester, and is dumbfounded that I don't agree.
  • Uncle broke a toe so she went home to be with family during the day of the operation. Since it was a Wednesday, stayed until the weekend, missing two classes.
  • Grandma had an MRI on her hip, so went home and missed two classes. Missed important quiz, wanted to take the quiz by phone at the hospital.
  • Boyfriend's mother's car broke down out of town and had to drive with boyfriend and boyfriend's brother to "rescue" her with gasoline and a meal. Missed mid-term, expected to take it at her leisure.
  • Went with volleyball team to Florida for tournament, then because father lives in South Carolina, stayed an extra week before coming back. Was alarmed that I had counted her absent, and said that I should be more respectful of her family.
  • Dead grandma. Missed two weeks.
  • Dead grandma. Missed one week, and when I asked him to do some make-up work, called the Dean of Students and told her that he was suffering from stress, and that my insensitivity should not be allowed.
  • Dead grandma. Lingered in the hospital for longer than expected, so stayed away from school for three weeks. When came back, refused to take a make-up midterm, saying her head wasn't into school, but then cried when I asked her if she considered maybe dropping the class and taking it when she would benefit from it. Told me she dropped the class, missed another week, then showed up for class on Halloween dressed as a stripper (along with several of her sorority sisters), and told me she was ready to take the midterm.

Am I crazy, or are they?