- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 19 November 2014
I am not an avid reader of the Outlook. In fact, I had no idea how frequently, or on which day, the paper was printed until this week. My perusal of its pages has been part of a recent attempt to develop some semblance of a connection to the University and my classmates – outside of my own personal academic life – before I graduate in May.
When I read the op-ed "To Go, or Not to Go to Class? That is the Question" I became excited. Expecting a criticism of the all too frequent student absences on campus, I found myself thinking, "Could it be... another Monmouth student who is as appalled, discouraged, and frustrated with the overall lack-luster academic attitude of the student body as I am?"
Within the first few sentences of the article, however, I knew I was mistaken.
The piece begins, "How often do you find yourself sitting in a classroom and thinking, 'Wow this is what I woke up for?' We've all had those classes, mainly electives or graduation requirements, which feel like nothing more than a waste of time, credits, money, and most importantly, sleep. I understand that the University has certain requirements a student must fulfill so that he/she is considered well-rounded enough when entering the real world – or at least that's their excuse for stocking us with unnecessary courses."
To answer the writer's question: never.
I recognize that adequate sleep is important for college students, but to dismiss the amazing educational privilege afforded to college students in favor of an extra hour of sleep does not make any sense to me.
It does not matter whether the student lost sleep because of academics, or because they decided to binge on the latest season of their current Netflix vice. Sleep is important for college students because it ensures they will have the energy to attend college. Adult responsibility is not just the ability to say, "Screw class, I have more important things to do." It means planning and prioritizing your life so that you can both sleep and go to class.
Although somewhat pertinent, the issue of sleep deprivation is hardly the most glaring problem expressed in the opening paragraph. The sentiment that gen-ed and elective classes are a waste of time, or unnecessary, should trouble all members of the academic community.
The average Monmouth student takes approximately 60 non-major credits – based on a mean average of the elective and gen-ed credit requirements outlined in the Psychology, Math, Health/PE, Software Engineering, Accounting, Chemistry, Communications, Criminal Justice, English, Marketing, Social Work, and Music curricula. These account for nearly half of a student's undergraduate college education. The required fields of study – which amount to roughly 30 of the 60 credits – include Math, Science, History, English and Information Technology.
Which of these fields is unnecessary for a well-rounded education?
The idea that any portion of this sizeable chunk of classes is not worthy of a student's time suggests a problem with the concept of a liberal arts education, and not with policies used to govern classroom attendance. I do not wish to imply that every student should be a chemist.Nor do I believe that every class will be directly relevant to a major area of study. I am suggesting that it is essential for college students to learn to love learning, which spans all subject matters, not just those preferential to the student. A class may not be useful in your daily life, but the knowledge gained in the class could prove to be beneficial to our understanding of ourselves, and others.
I have yet to hear the parable where someone suffers an ill-fated demise because they were too thoughtful and well educated.
The latter half of, "To Go, or Not to Go" contends that self-education is as valuable, if not more valuable than lectures, and that a sufficient effort outside of class will yield a "decent" or "passing" grade.
I have no doubt that students who were mentally absent during class have received As. Grades, however, do not mean everything, and this practice highlights another serious problem.
Many students dismiss the social aspect of learning. I am a staunch advocate of self-education, but if a student believes that attendance at lectures is not valuable, aren't they operating under the assumption that their abstractions are not only correct, but also, that their classmates and professors (who more than likely have doctoral degrees) have nothing to contribute?
There is a cliché about that which happens when you assume. Suffice it to say that ignoring the importance of the classroom in the learning process demonstrates, at best, a commitment to mediocrity, and at worst, a serious contempt for critical thought.
Attendance should not just be thought of as mandatory, but as vital to a student's academic growth. If a student is either unwilling or unable to make the personal commitment to attend class, they may want to consider an alternative. Education is for everyone, but college is not. The decision to invest in a post-secondary education requires a great deal of responsibility from the student and should not be taken lightly.
If a student reaches the personal conclusion that college is the best educational choice, then they should thank the professors that hold them to a reasonable academic standard, and expect them to come to class. The classroom is the arena where theories can be tested, mistakes realized, and where true personal excellence begins.