To skip or not to skip: what’s the risk?

“Do you want the grade or do you want the  education?” Professor Melissa Grey said.
Photo by Josh Cappuccilli

Attendance policies vary greatly at MCCC, sometimes creating strife between students and professors. 

The college allows professors to implement their own attendance policies, based on the type of class and the professor’s preferences.

Students who are dissatisfied with the policies usually differ with the professor ideologically.

“My Stats class here at the community college has felt like a waste of time because everything you need is online,” student Adam Johansen said.

Most professors view education as a collaborative activity that includes asking questions, hearing the answers, sharing ideas and exploring new things in a group setting.

English professor and WAC coordinator Tim Dillon firmly believes in the classroom setting.

“Education is a social activity, not an isolated activity,” Dillon said.

Students who are opposed to the policies may seem disengaged or lazy.

In reality, their situations may be much more complicated.

“I know some people that had a funeral for one of their close relatives and the professor wouldn’t let it go, and to me that kind of thing should be excused,” student Martee Walker said.

Unfortunately for non-traditional students who have to miss class for personal reasons, coming to class provides extras that are only available from the professor.

“You learn more, you get little tidbits that the professor says that may not be on the PowerPoints,” student Ian Cicero said.

Melissa Grey, professor of Psychology, encourages students to take advantage of everything their professor makes available to them.

“Do you want the grade or do you want the education?” Grey asked.

Many professors create their attendance policies to be responsive to the individual needs of students.

“If students were the enemies or were here for us to punish, then there are lots of other fields that would allow us to do that with much less education,” Grey joked.

At MCCC, there is no blanket college attendance policy.

They differ based on the professor and the type of class.

Dillon has implemented a policy that allows up to four absences before points are removed from the student’s final score. After the fifth absence, Dillon will send in a faculty drop, which allows students to leave class with a “W” instead of a failing grade.

Administration then contacts the students and asks them if they wish to continue or withdraw. This makes a difference in the student’s GPA. 

“I’m not trying to be mean when I send in a faculty drop; I’m trying to keep them from receiving a 0 for the class,” Dillon said.

Students can stay informed about these policies and their options by communicating with their professors.

“I try to save students from themselves,” Dillon said.

While in-class education seems to be the favorite among professors, one cannot dismiss the value of online classes. With the accessibility of technology, our society has embraced distance learning.

Students are able to attend a vast array of classes from all over the world without leaving their home.

Online classes broaden the demographic and make education available to more students. 

Speech and Tae Kwon Do professor Mark Bergmooser has not adopted online courses.

“I think that the social impact and being face-to-face in front of a group of people is a big part of the community college experience,” Bergmooser said.

Education necessitates a teacher and a student.

“I am a firm believer that if you are a student in any class, you need to approach it with a humble attitude that I’m here to learn from this person,” Bergmooser said.

Students may feel that the professor’s position of authority places them at a disadvantage. In reality, a contract is signed by both parties and keeps them accountable for their performance, he said.

Students have a voice that keeps the environment democratic.

Many professors will go out of their way for their students.

“Come to class, visit me during my office hours, ask for help or email me,” Dillon said.