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The Chosen Rosen: Presence is a present: Go to class!

Published: February 18, 2011
Section: Opinions, Top Stories


You’re woken abruptly by the roar of your alarm clock. You forcibly glance up at the time: 8:55 a.m. Class starts in 15 minutes. Do you push yourself out of bed, an act that requires far more willpower than you have at your disposal, or do you fall back into bed naturally?

As college students, we have the option to go to class. In high school, once we set foot in the building, we had to go to all of our classes (in my school, the alternative was either sitting in the bathroom or wandering around the halls). In college, classes are broken up during the course of the day, and so we have the leisure of choosing whether we want to go to each class.

Some people take full advantage of this, skipping every single class, telling themselves it doesn’t matter. The papers are what are important. And the tests. Lectures are trivial. Other people tell themselves they can get away with just doing the readings. Or, in large lecture classes, they just copy down the notes from the PowerPoint presentations on LATTE. Other people in college treat every day like a snow day. Class? Psh. Who goes to that?

In large classes, you can get away with missing four, five—maybe 10 classes without your teacher knowing you weren’t there. But in small classes, you won’t be so lucky, even if the teacher doesn’t know your name and even if attendance isn’t required.

I’ll admit—sometimes it’s better not to attend a class. Things come up all the time—family emergencies, drama within your friend group, a craving for Sherman ice cream—it happens. Missing class under these circumstances is fine. But doing so on a regular basis is not good. Missing class once in a while is also acceptable when there are more pressing matters to attend to. If you have an art history paper due at 2 p.m. that you haven’t started yet, going to your 10 a.m. class on quantum physics probably isn’t in your best interest. You have to consider the greater good. Certain classes just matter more than others at certain times. But skipping class to lie in bed all day, and then waking up to slap yourself in the face, wondering why you didn’t go to any of your classes that day isn’t all that fun.

In reality, it’s worth it to go to class. After all, when you hand Brandeis a gigantic check every year, I would hope that you’d be paying for more than the Olin-Sang breakfast cart. You’re paying for a quality education. And these professors—as much as they torture you by calling on you when you’re day-dreaming about that guy from “Glee,” or when they assign paper topics that are impossible to write about—are being paid to teach you. And you’re paying to learn.

And sure, you can learn lots by sitting in your room Facebook-stalking the entire student body, but you can learn more by going to class, taking notes and applying yourself (you can Facebook stalk afterwards).

To prove my point, I’ve made a list of the top 10 reasons to go to class (along with the responses that you would probably give to all my reasons):

1) The Money Factor: Think about all the thousands of dollars you’re wasting by not going to class. The cost of full-time tuition for two semesters is approximately $40,000. Of course, that’s not counting a meal plan or room and board, but you don’t get that stuff when you go to class. Anyway, $40,000 divided by 8 classes per year means you’re paying roughly $5,000 for each class you’re in. So that means every time you miss class, you’re throwing hundreds of dollars out the window.

You’re numbers don’t make sense …

2) How will you understand the material if you’re not there? If you get one of those really good professors who breaks everything down so it’s easy to understand, you’ll want to go to class. Or else you won’t be able to understand the material for tests.

There’s always Wikipedia …

3) What if the professor hands out a paper topic sheet or a study guide in class? To obtain the sheet, you would then have to send him an e-mail asking for a copy and then make up an excuse for why you missed class. That’s a lot of trouble to go to (not to mention unnecessary embarrassment) just because you couldn’t get out bed at 9 a.m.

I have no problem asking my professor for a study guide—no big deal …

4) Your parents want you to go to class. Bad reason? Next.

You said it …

5) If you don’t go to class, you can’t participate in class. And if you don’t participate in class, the professor won’t know your name. And as any upperclassmen will tell you: if the professors know your name, that can really help a lot when they grade your papers.

I’m a published author! I can write exemplary papers, and the professor would have to give me an A!

6) How can you take notes if you’re not there? And in test-based classes, if you don’t take notes, what will you study?

There’s always friends’ notes …

7) Not attending class is reinforcing a careless attitude in you and will not help build your work ethic for the future. How will you ace the LSAT if you can’t even go to your law class.

That makes no sense …

8) It’s making you lazy; stop being lazy!

Too late for that …

9) What about the social aspects of going to class? How will you make friends in your classes? Or meet that cute, quiet girl who sits in the back and giggles at every joke the professor makes?

There are no cute girls in any of my classes; I can meet better looking girls online in my room …

10) In the long-run, you will benefit more from going to class, learning and applying yourself, than sitting in your room.

So next time you decide to skip class, ask yourself: “Is it worth it?” Next time you’re taking a test and you get to a question you don’t know, before you blame your professor for not teaching the material, blame yourself for skipping the lecture that he most likely taught it in. Go to class. It’s better than the alternative.