We’ve all watched TV shows and movies that take place on college campuses—so we all know in these depictions, students never really go to class. They go to parties, sometimes they study, they always get hyped up in drama with their friends, and they spend a lot of time on the quad or in the cafeteria, but they usually never step foot in a classroom or lecture hall. Weird, huh? A lot of students think this is a common practice at college. Some students think it’s all parties and naptimes, and you’re fine as long as you show up for the first day of class and the final exam. However, this is fundamentally flawed, and students need to stop thinking skipping classes is acceptable while in college. Here are the top three reasons why.
1. Your attendance is important
If you go to a large university where most of your classes are in lecture halls, attendance might not seem imperative. However, if you’re going to a college with smaller classes and a small student-faculty ratio, chances are your professor is going to notice you’re missing. Big lectures may have you log in to class with clicker technology, and some colleges even have attendance policies where your grades take a hit with a certain number of absences! These can be waived for extenuating circumstances like severe illness, but you’ll need doctor’s notes in those circumstances.
These policies are especially important if you’re studying abroad, because attendance isn’t just a matter of school policy as it is visa qualification. Attendance may be mandatory for you to keep your visa, and you may be deported if you break those qualifications. That’s not a great way to end your semester, is it?
2. You’re in college to learn
Remember, the reason you’re going to college is to learn things. How are you going to learn things if you’re not in class? Read the book? Why are you paying (we’ll get to that point in a minute) for college if you’re just going to read the book? You could just pull a Good Will Hunting and spend time in the library for free instead. If you only show up to class for exams, you’ll miss plenty of information that’ll likely be on that exam. And even if you just read the book, your professor may discuss topics that aren’t mentioned, dive deeper into something that was, or provide a new perspective on something you’ve never thought about. Not to mention, pop quizzes count toward your grade too—and you can never predict when those will be, hence the pop in pop quiz.
3. College is an expensive investment
You’re paying for these classes—need I say more? According to Student Loan Hero, more than half of all US college students took out loans to pay for college in 2020, averaging approximately $29,800 total for their time at college, with the average graduate paying almost $400 a month to pay that amount off. Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report states that it takes the average bachelor’s recipient 21 years to pay off their debt in full.
Even more shocking numbers
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees is $9,716 for in-state public college students, $21,629 for out-of-state public college students, and $35,676 for private colleges. Let’s say these are the value of your classes and (to keep everything even) you’re taking 12 credits per semester, the minimum number you need to be considered a full-time student. For kicks, we’ll even look at the Ivies, taking the average of the tuition and fees of all eight to get a single number. Keeping all this in mind, let’s look at the numbers*:
In-state public college
- $9,716 per year for 24 credits = $405 per credit
- Three credits per course = $1,215 per course
- 15 weeks per semester = $81 per week
- Two classes per week = $41 per class
Out-of-state public college
- $21,629 per year for 24 credits = $901 per credit
- Three credits per course = $2,703 per course
- 15 weeks per semester = $180 a week
- Two classes per week = $90 per class
- $35,676 per year for 24 credits = $1,487 per credit
- Three credits per course = $4,461 per course
- 15 weeks per semester = $297 per week
- Two classes per week = $149 per class
Ivy League college
- $55,159 per year for 24 credits = $2,298 per credit
- Three credits per course = $6,894 per course
- 15 weeks per semester = $460 per week
- Two classes per week = $230 per class
* Amounts rounded to the nearest dollar
Your student loans
And don’t forget those loans. Your loans have interest you’ll be paying off for the next 21 years, according to those statistics mentioned earlier. Now, in the grand scheme of money, this doesn’t actually seem like it’s that much when you break it down. The average adult probably spends the same amount on essentials like groceries, commuting, and fun every week. But consider this: Would you ever go to a restaurant, order $90–$230 worth of food, pay the service tax and gratuity to the server, and leave without eating the food for absolutely no reason? Would you do that consistently across the span of 15 weeks? Probably not. So why would you do that with your education?
When it comes down to it, going to class is an investment in yourself—your education, your future, and your wallet. So don’t short yourself by skipping! We get it; some days you’ll be tired or burnt out. If that happens, communicate openly and honestly with your professor and find a low-risk class to miss if it’s for your mental or physical health. But in the end, attend most of your classes so you can get the highest return on your self investment.
For more advice on getting through your college classes, check out our Majors and Academics section.