Students voice concerns about college attendance policy

By Jill Frank

Riverhead and Ammerman campus students surveyed are frustrated with the College’s strict attendance policy. The attendance policy has been in place since the school started in 1959,  however; many students can’t help but ask, why?

           “Yes, it is a given that there would probably be a lot of students who would never show up but what most of us are asking for is not to have a no maximum absence policy. We’re just asking for maybe a higher maximum like five allowed instead of three. I went to Dowling in my first semester and we were allowed seven absences. That maximum is a lot more reasonable,” said Marissa Hellermann, a nutrition major at the Riverhead campus.

     An ongoing anger is felt by students who discussed this policy because they often feel it is unfair. Because they are paying for the classes they are enrolled in, they said they think it is an unreasonable policy. Though students are often in conflict with the rule, teachers insist the policy is smart and something that must be kept.

     “It is important for a strict absence policy at this school because I think students believe they don’t have to take this college as serious as others since it’s a community college and not a university, or that they don’t have to do as much work. But that’s not the case here. This school is just like any other college and we intend to keep it that way,” said Christopher Schmidt, a professor in the science department at the Ammerman campus.

     According to the SCC student handbook, the current absence policy is that a student is allowed three absences before a professor can withdraw them from the course they are enrolled in. Some teachers interviewed said they are instructed to take attendance every class and report to the registrar’s office with the attendance sheets so they can keep track of a student’s absences. Other professors have stated attendance is determined by individual professors.

     According to a survey taken of 10 professors, 7 out of the 10 agree that the absence policy is not overly strict and that it is a good idea.

     “If students had lenience, I don’t think they would show up. They would take advantage of it,” stated Chris Cosenza, a physical education professor and tennis coach at the Ammerman campus.

         Professor Edward DeLia, an adjunct professor at the Ammerman campus made an interesting point as well, by saying, “Students shouldn’t be allowed to miss class more than three times. If they’re not interesting in coming to class as much, then why do they bother coming at all? They’re supposed to be here to learn, not be absent.”

But students say that isn’t the case.

            “I think the max absences allowed should depend on the course you’re enrolled in. Some classes I have taken we don’t even take notes or anything. We’re just assigned reading and papers; it’s more like a workshop. If you want you could just do all the work at home and then hand it in on the due dates. So why should it matter if I’m present in the class more than three times? I obviously wouldn’t have been missing anything if I missed one or two more classes than allowed. I would have just made up the work at home later on anyway,” said a former student, Michael Finnerty, stated something similar.

7 responses

  1. There’s a federal requirement that students who receive financial aid attend class so the standard for one must be applied to all.

  2. I think that a teacher kicking a student out of a class they paid for after only three is ridiculous. The law says they must attend the minimum amount of classes required by that college. And the college set in place a set of standards that is difficult for many students today. What if that student was in the hospital or ill for more than three classes, or a parent had to be home with their child? Should they be punished for that if they can make up the work and keep up their grades? The average student has quite a bit more on their plate than they did in 1959. And if the student is held so highly accountable for missing three classes, why aren’t the teachers? I think one of the reason’s this college has kept such a stringent policy in place is because the teacher’s and staff don’t want to deal with more than the minimum required of them. Guess what, I’m sure there’s plenty of student’s like that, but many of those same students have full-time and even in some cases multiple jobs. A professor teaches class, outlines the course plan and grades papers, and they do it over and over again, year after year. These students are coming in for the first time, they have much more on their plate than their teachers and their being punished, while their teacher’s feel no reprecussions for the same acts. I’ve had many professors who have cancelled more than three classes, but they’re not being fired. If a student is held to such a high standard, then that professor should be held to a higher one. If you pay the money, then you should get the education you paid for. If you don’t go to class then you fail, but should the college have the right to drop you from a class after only three absences. I think not and that to me is just a load of bull. I think seven should be the policy personally, but I could get on board with five. That at least seems more reasonable. After seven absences in one semester, you can be pretty sure the class is a little much for that student and they’re probably not coming back, but three is just ridiculous.

  3. Academic courtesy and the acceptance by every member of the University of the responsibilities of the academic vocation govern class attendance. Since courses are usually conducted on a weekly basis, absence from the course seriously weakens the student opportunity to learn and impairs the scholarly conversation through which learning proceeds.

    If the student is in the hospital or other emergency arises. Provided that there is written documentation professors usually will not punish the student for emergency situations.So YES, there is such thing as an “excused absecne”

    Besides the whole purpose of obtaining a college education is to attend class and learn. It is a preview of how the real world will treat an individual if they miss work!

    If the student chooses to put more on their plate with other extra-curricular activites then he/she either must learn to manage their time or simply not attend college.

    Taxpayers are contributing so millions of students can attend school(any government money is paid by taxpayers). Therefore student’s have a responsibility to their community to follow the school’s policies. It would be a waste of taxpayer’s money to the students who are not able to follow rules and order.

    Without these attendance rules, I guarantee…….students will not show up in class…or will show as little as they can….They would find any excuse in the book to say that they “couldn’t be there”.

    The bottom line is absent students usually cannot achieve their academic goals and instructors cannot properly teach students when they are not in class.

  4. I agree, why would someone want to miss so many days of college?

  5. I think both sides are correct. I went to a college that did not have a strict attendence policy. I missed several classes but still graduated with honors and now hold a corporate job that allows 3 weeks vacation time, 10 sick days, and three personal days, so i’m not sure how missing three days and getting kicked out prepares you for the real world? In reality the “real-world” has far more lean rules and LAWS put in place by our governemnt do not allow places of employement to penalize employees in the way they would a student, so once again exactly what does that attendence policy prepare you for? If a student paid for a class and chooses not to attend and so fails because of low grades then let that be the penalty. Im quite sure its not that people want to just “miss days”, but more that 3 days in a whole year is unrealistic, hence why most professionals give far more than 3 sick days to employees. College is not highschool, tax payers are not heavily paying for it, students tuition is!

  6. Not all students are going to miss every class. Your students coming to class will make the grades and it will show, if a student chooses to weaken their opportunity to learn and doesnt’ take school seriously, they will be out after the first couple semester’s attendance or no attendance. The one’s that want to be there will still be there and if they can miss a few extra days while still making the grade, they obviously know the criteria well enough.

    As far as how the “real world” will treat them, most of these kids have jobs or have had a job and realize that there is a big difference between school and work.

    It is not guaranteed that students won’t show, they have to want it to obtain the grade whether the policy is in place or not. The students that would be thought to miss every class are the one’s sleeping during lectures therefor not learning while they are there anyway.

    Stereotyping students as lazy and ill motivated is an ignorant thing to do, if the professor wants them there then give them a reason. Go out of the way to make the class exciting and interesting to students. They should enjoy being there to learn new things instead of being punished for being bored.

  7. Anthony Campbell | Reply

    The grammar here pains me. I’m just throwing that out there.

    Really, though, there are three versions of the word “there.” Learn to use them, how ’bout it?

    On a serious note, though, “The Real World?”
    Oh, the real world where I have to work 40 hours a week and better hope I can keep civil with my roommate, or else be homeless?

    Some of us don’t have daddies that can pay a stipend so we don’t have to work a full time job in addition to our part time job, and go to school. Some of us don’t have any financial support to get through school at all aside from the meager pittance provided by Pell grants and the like. Some of us have kids already, mortgages, bills and bills and bills. Some of us don’t have a spleen, and are incredibly susceptible to any and all contagious ailments.

    Three absences? Three? I’d run through that twice, and have an excellent “excuse” for each one. I’d fail my classes, because professors are jerks when it comes to work being late (even if you were mugged and set on fire by your assailants, it seems; skin grafts are NOT a good reason to turn in work late).

    Life happens, and it’s not always pretty. It’s rarely fair or even decent, in my experience. But college ought to be a place where we shoot for the ideals, not grind our faces against the harsh realities that we are already dealing with.

    If you think your students aren’t dealing with the “real world” already, you need a reality check of your own.

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