When the thought of skipping a class crosses a student’s mind, the direct effect on a grade may be considered, but the monetary effect on not just themselves but the university as a whole can be overlooked.
For a student who is enrolled in 12 units, a $3,300 tuition makes each unit approximately $275. So if each class is about $825, over the course of a 15-week semester, the approximate cost of skipping one class alone is about $18.
Azucena Graciano, a 23-year-old sociology major, admits to skipping class occasionally only for beneficial reasons.
“I’ll do it when I have to study for another class,” Graciano said. “So I don’t think of it as a bad thing and I don’t feel guilty for doing it.”
Graciano, aware of the approximate amount it costs to skip just one class, said she feels as though it is up to a student to decide whether or not it is a good idea to miss class because essentially they pay for the course.
For the university, the effects of students missing too many class sessions are substantial as well, although not as direct as they are for students.
Lakshmi Malroutu, interim assistant vice president of Academic Enrollment and Resource Planning, said there are many unintended impacts on Sacramento State.
“What happens is students start skipping classes for whatever reasons. They think they can study on their own or they find the professor is not really motivating them,” Malroutu said. “But towards the end of the semester or pass midterms, they realize they aren’t going to get the grade that they need.”
It is at this point, Malroutu said, some students make the decision to stop coming to class completely, forcing the professor to apply a withdrawal unauthorized to their grade, indicating that an enrolled student did not withdraw from the course and also failed to complete course requirements. A ‘WU’ grade is equivalent to an ‘F.’
This then forces the student to repeat the course, meaning the department must use more resources to offer more seats or additional sections and when a student re-registers into a course, other students are being shut out from it as a result.
“So it has this kind of domino effect,” Malroutu said. “When they repeat the class, either the students are getting shut out or the departments have to offer more seats and spend more resources, so it’s a question of equity also.”
This becomes especially true for bottleneck courses, or courses that are high in demand but with a high-fail rate, such as science, engineering and others that require a lab.
Malroutu said another effect of skipping class is on financial aid. When students receive federal or state aid, by law the university must provide for each of them that they are making satisfactory academic progress.
“So if they skip too many classes and then are not successful,it can affect their satisfactory academic progress,” Malroutu said. “Sometimes student tend to not think of all the pieces. Those are the things students need to consider and we as a university administrators need to continue to provide that information.”
Though there is not a requirement for attendance from the university, professors have taken the liberty to grade upon appearance in many ways.
Often time through quizzes or clicker use, it is not rare for professors to take attendance at random, especially when the classroom is very sparsely occupied.
Ellen Berg, a sociology professor, said she does not directly take attendance,but does have an attendance policy of some sort in that when a reading assignment is due a student must be in class to turn it in.
“I think students just lose the continuity of what we’re covering if they miss,” Berg said. “So if students miss more than one or two classes, not only are they missing some of the material, but I think they have just a harder time staying on top of getting things turned in. It just seems as though things sort of slip through the cracks for them.”
Berg said a way she believes the university can improve attendance is by looking at being more creative and thinking about different ways to offer classes, especially knowing that most students are commuting.
“At the end of the day, these are individual decisions because part of coming to college and coming and getting a degree is making those choices and being able to live it,” Malroutu said. “Faculty and advisers can only motivate the student so much. Ultimately, it’s the student that doesn’t make the right choices.”