It’s a widely accepted standard that, in college, you don’t have to go to class. It’s the difference between high school and university. No one can call you a truant, no one will phone home, and if you feel sick (or “feel sick”) in the middle of the day, no one can make you go through multiple offices and phone calls in order to leave.
In college, skipping class is easy. You either walk out the door or you don’t.
However, just because no one will track you down if you don’t show up, doesn’t mean you won’t suffer consequences. In many classes, attendance is taken, but you don’t have to attend class – just like you don’t have to pass.
If you’re a full-time undergraduate student, you’re paying more than $40,000 just to be able to sign up for 12 to 20 credit hours a semester. The fewer credits you take (or attend), the more you’re paying per class.
Along with the fact that I’m paying, moral obligation makes me go. I think of the Shingon Buddhists, who have enough mental strength to walk across hot ash in an annual “firewalking festival” called Hiwatari-Matsuri. I tell myself I can meditate through a required natural science course while learning about air parcels and tectonic plates, even though they’re my hot coals of pain.
For some, skipping class gets addictive. You might feel a bit guilty the first time, but after that, you find ways to justify it again and again. Maybe the word “skipping” has some sort of positive connotation in our minds. We imagine ourselves skipping and frolicking freely, amid sunflowers in a fenceless field. But if you skip one class, you won’t know what’s going on in the next session, and this only makes it easier to justify skipping again and again. And then you fail.
I remain convinced that listening to lectures lets the information seep into my mind in a way that viewing the PowerPoints alone cannot. I also feel that failing to show up regularly is simply rude. Unexcused absence communicates to the instructor and everyone else that in all honesty, you just don’t care. You have better or more important things to do, as if everyone else’s time isn’t valuable as well.
Before you skip, remember that attending class isn’t only about the lecture. It’s about interacting with people, learning to speak up, and connecting with those who either share your interests or can offer new views. Our professors are the best of the best at what they do, and you absolutely cannot build a personal relationship with them if you aren’t around.
Sometimes it takes tremendous willpower to get out of bed, but instead of sinking lower under the covers, why not summon your strength? Remember the hot ash. Remember that great effort leads to success.
Hunter Wright is a sophomore majoring in creative writing.