Every college student has felt seduced by the thought of skipping class—whether it be just once, because the thought of putting on pants and braving the cold is too much, or because there are other, better things to devote time and energy towards. Regardless of your internal reasoning, the one thing about college that should be a priority for everyone is attending classes.
It sounds simple enough, but so many college students just don’t go to class. Classic reasons may be because of uninspiring professors and boring lectures. Some people feel like they can get away with an A in a class without trying or by working from home. Others might be highly motivated outside of class, working or tending to their own side projects, and thus see school as something to simply pass in order to obtain a degree.
But why enroll full-time in college if you aren’t even going to attend? It’s one of the most important ways to make the most of what college has to offer. Looking at financial incentives alone, the numbers are staggering. Every single class session that I sit in at my school, Boston University, costs roughly $384. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of money that pains me to think of wasting. We pay insanely high tuition prices, and with student debt becoming an increasing concern for many, why even think of paying or taking out a loan for something that you didn’t even use? Students, first and foremost, should absolutely be in the classroom, regardless of what grade they expect to receive or what commitments they have outside of school. It’s the least we can do. It’s also not that hard.
Classes are the backbone to any academic experience. We only have four years to use world-class resources and be taught by outstanding and renowned experts in their field of work. Once we’re out there in real world, I’ve heard that you might actually long for the things you never really took advantage of. You never know what you have until it’s gone, right?
You also will probably miss things that happen during physical class time. For everything that happens outside of the classroom, a heck of a lot takes place inside of it, as well. Professors may mention something that your friends forgot to jot down in their notes, or bring up an outside topic that sparks your interest. Not everything might go up on Blackboard. An intense offshoot discussion might spring up.
To some extent, you have a choice in taking responsibility for the quality of your education. Do all your classes make you want to fall asleep? Try courageously giving some pointers to your professor, or telling him or her some other points of interest that could be brought up next time. Or next semester, scour Rate My Professors and plan your entire schedule around only awesome professors who you genuinely want to learn from and know more about. It may seem impossible at first, but trust me, it can be done. Got a cool project you’re working on in your free time? Talk to your class about it: gather opinions, ask for advice and take what you hear in lecture and use it to better your work outside of school. There is always something you can take away from classes beyond tolerating someone mumbling at a podium for 90 minutes. It’s up to you to seek it out, and you can only do that if you’re actually attending all your classes and keeping up-to-date.
I talked to my friend Rachel Kim, a junior at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who says that although she understands why some students skip class, especially if they could still get away with maintaining good grades:
We pay so much money, and that includes classes and professors … there’s an issue if lots of students believe their college’s resources don’t serve them well. If students aren’t going to class because they think it’s a waste of time, students and teachers need to communicate more efficiently. Professors teach because they want to share their research and passion for the subject to interested students. I think a lot of us simply “got through” high school, but college offers a much richer experience.
I think this attitude toward college is healthy and pro-active. Personally, the worst thing I could potentially do is coast passively through college. By holding ourselves accountable for our academic decisions, we’re setting ourselves up for a well-balanced education and will feel more accomplished at the end of each semester.
So, the next time you think you could be doing better things than going to the classes you enrolled in, pinpoint what you believe is missing and find some concrete ways you could potentially benefit from being in the classroom. Then look for ways you can squeeze the juice out of your experiences and tailor it to your needs and interests. After all, this is your education and no one else is in charge of it.
College is all about taking opportunities, and almost all opportunities are presented to people who show up. Don’t let the value of college dramatically decrease because of one-track-mindedness. If so, why should colleges even hire hardworking professors to challenge students? Why offer expensive, high-quality resources? Show up to every class, participate and you’ll find that there maybe is something for you there after all. Take paths that don’t all necessarily have what you expect is waiting for you at the end. College is $50,000 worth so much more.