While studying or even registering for a class presents a challenge to some college students, the greatest obstacle remains, going to class. Attending college is supposed to signify a new found freedom to make many important choices regarding education without high school mandatory attendance policies. However, students everywhere are coming to the staggering realization that college is not too different from high school. Teachers still take class roll and students are still expected to be at every class on time. What next, hall monitors in Holden Hall? The time has come for action to be taken. Colleges must abolish mandatory student attendance policies for several reasons to be further discussed.
First, in order to enroll in college, mandatory attendance in a previous educational institution is required. For most, this record consists of 13 years of mandatory classroom attendance prior to college. It is a valid argument that the continuation of this policy is effective for job preparation in that it teaches accountability and self-discipline. But if a student is required by a higher authority to do something, is it really self-discipline? No, it is merely a high school power struggle between student and teacher that has some how found its way in to the classrooms of colleges everywhere. This policy teaches students that in his or her future, if attendance at a particular event is important, someone will be there to mandate it. The mandatory attendance policy does not promote self-discipline, it promotes the control of one individual by another. The only way that a student will learn self-discipline and accountability is through trial and error using his or her own judgement, not based on policy.
Secondly, the majority of the students that do not attend class are usually the one's that should not attend class. These students tend to be disruptive and tardy distracting the students that actually want to further their education. If this policy stays in effect, it will continue to place students with little or no academic motivation in the same learning environment as those striving to achieve their highest potential. This is detrimental to everyone involved in the education process because it slows down the pace of progression. By allowing students to miss class, the student-teacher ratio will be more favorable and teachers will have fewer distractions.
Finally, a college student is a consumer with a demand for a product, an education. The teachers are the producers. Who wants to pay thousands of dollars for something, and then be regulated on when, how, and where to get it? Nobody. Which is probably why Texas Tech has a freshman dropout rate of 21% for the Fall 1999 semester according to Roger Terry, an author of the "Fall 1999 Retention Summary" produced by the Texas Tech Institutional Research department. According to Mr. Terry, this dropout rate is one of the highest in the Big 12 Conference and is a problem over-looked by many school officials. It is true that in a job situation the employee is required to attend work and it can be sensibly argued that this policy would help to prepare the student for his or her career. However, in this situation, the roles have changed. The employee is no longer a consumer; he or she is now the producer, receiving payment as opposed to providing payment. While it is important to the teacher to instruct the student in the classroom environment and can be highly beneficial in the quality of education received, it should be the consumer's decision to take advantage of this instruction.
In conclusion, with only 79% of the freshman class returning for the Spring Semester, it is time to take action. Mandating a student to attend class does not improve the quality of education received. The decision to take the initiative to attend class should rest solely in the hands of the student. Colleges must abolish mandatory student attendance policies because it does not promote self-discipline and accountability and is detrimental to the learning environment. The decision to attend class should be up to the consumer. After all, there are some lessons in the book of life that have to be learned on one's own, based on his or her own judgment, not based on policy.