Derek Koivunen loses much more than his education when he skips class. Playing hooky also drains the Brighton freshman’s wallet.
“It’s a problem when starting out college in general,” Koivunen said about skipping. “You aren’t forced by the state. If you get swamped, I could understand. But what’s the point if you’re paying for classes?”
For undergraduate Michigan students, tuition at Central Michigan University stands at $374 per credit hour. For a three-credit-hour class, students pay $1,122, which comes to about $35 per session, if class meets twice a week for 16 weeks. Once-a-week, three-credit classes cost students about $70 per session.
“It’s a lot of money to waste,” Utica junior Megan Smith said. “When people have classes they always skip, it’s sad to be paying for a class you never go to.”
Out-of-state students risk an even greater loss, at $789 per credit hour, or $74 per session in a twice-weekly, three-credit class. Classes that meet once a week cost students $148 per session.
“Just being there is better,” Smith said. “You really miss out on a lot of stuff if you miss class. It’s in the back of your head, even if you’re just sitting there. I don’t (skip class) a lot, maybe if it’s been a long day. When you don’t know what’s going on, it’s a problem.”
To sixth-year Caleva senior Megan Bowers, academic success doesn’t always require a classroom. During her undergraduate studies, Bowers was able to maintain an “A” average while learning on her own.
“In my undergrad classes, I skipped a lot,” she said. “When your grades are affected, it’s a bad idea. Sometimes, if the teacher sucks, I wouldn’t want to pay to waste my time.”
According to Director of Student Success Jason Bentley, students who skip class not only lose out on their own education, they might detriment the experiences of their classmates. He charged that students who do attend, but are not engaged in the lessons, might as well not be there.
“When you’re not actively present, there’s a dimension of the learning process outside of yourself that is impacted,” he said. “When you elect to not share ideas or questions, it has a residual effect. The others lose out on the diversity of the discussion. Some might have attended class, but they’re skipping by not being engaged.”
Bentley was wary of a “downward spiral” that occurs when students begin missing classes to work on other school work.
Director of CMU’s Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching Jim Therrell agreed that “high-order thinking skills,” including the application and evaluation of student skills, requires a high rate of attendance.
During Therrell’s 30-year teaching career, he said he required at least 90 percent attendance if students were to pass.
“You’ve got to be in class to get that engaged learning,” he said. “You can’t get it anywhere else.”
Therrell explained that attending class, aside from learning the coursework, is essential to student growth and future employability.
“Why are you coming to college to skip class?” he asked. “It doesn’t make sense. You need to follow through on your commitment to become a professional.”