Your Mom Isn't Your Alarm Clock Anymore

Your Mom Is Not Your Alarm Clock Anymore 
Why Going to Class Matters
By: Crystal Edenfield

Beep! Beep! Beep! It is your senior year and your alarm clock goes off. You hit snooze and drift back to sleep. Your mom knocks on your door, "Honey it is 6:30, time to get up and get ready for school."
 
Again another knock, and the flip of a light switch, "Darling, I let you sleep 15 more minutes, it is time to wake up." As you halfway open one eye you see your mother's face smiling down, and decide to get out of bed. Your mother asks you if she can iron your outfit for school, has breakfast waiting for you on the table, and sends you out the door, and off to school. 

Sound familiar? This may be the situation at your household, or it could just be the black and white scene from a classic rerun of Leave it to Beaver. For the last twelve years, most of us have had out parent's voice as an alarm clock or snooze button. If we missed a high school class, our homes would get a message from the school documenting the absence. It is the law to go to elementary, middle, and high school. But in college everything is different.

The freedom and excitement that comes with college also comes with a newfound responsibility of waking oneself up for class! Whether you use the alarm on your cell phone, tablet, or an old-school clock, the important thing is to set an alarm, wake up when it goes off, and do NOT press snooze!

Beautiful days will come, and you will be tempted to skip class and hang out at the fraternity house, go to the flag football game, watch reality television, or sleep in. As you approach your freshman year, consider these factors when you are trying to decide whether or not to miss a class or attend class. 

Why is class important?
For every hour of class, a student should be prepared to study for two-three hours. Because 80 percent of learning takes place outside of the classroom, what time you spend with the professor in the classroom is valuable. So many times I have students complain that a professor's exam did not represent the material covered in class. 

Your syllabus is your contract. 
In college, each professor is required to have a syllabus for their class. The sylubus outlines important dates, an attendance policy, grading methods, and a schedule for the class. The syllabus is your contract with the professor. It usually comes with a disclaimer stating the syllabus can change at any time. The first day of class your professor will go through the syllabus with you. If you have any questions, ask them then. Mark in your planner important dates for upcoming tests and projects. 

Know your attendance policy. 
If your class has an attendance policy it will be outlined in your syllabus. Some teachers just give participation points for each class the student attends, while others may say that a certain amount of absences will drop you from the class. Participation points can make the difference between an A and a C or a C and a F. My senior year of college, I missed five classes in my French class and it dropped my grade from a B to a D. It was a life lesson learned that almost cost me my graduation. 

There are no second chances. 
In college, there is no No Child Left Behind policy. Students are rarely granted second chances. Professors are not required to accept late or makeup work. If you make a bad grade on an assignment or a test, you will not be given the opportunity to make corrections and turn it in. The grade you get reflects the effort you give. It is easy to fall behind, but very dfficult to get caught up. 

Get to know your professor
Say that you are struggling with class but you are attending study sessions, stopping by for study hours, and making an effort. Your professor knows you are trying and reaching for help, and this can make a difference. Your professor may be more inclined to work with you over a student that shows up on the last day of class complaiing about their grade, and the professor has never seen them before. 

Easy Classes Matter
I teach a freshmen experience class of 25 students. By the end of the semester, half of my students were skipping class. They may have been burned out, sleeping in, or did not think my class mattered as much as my lecture classes; for whatever reason, they skipped my class. Many of their grades were hurt as a result of this. My class was a course that they should have made an A or B in. In the end, some students made Cs, Ds, and even Fs. Just remember so-called "easy" classes matter and can either hurt or help your grade-point-average. 

You are paying for it.
Every class you choose to skip is like flushing your parent's or your own money down the toilet. College tuitionis expensive and every dollar counts. In order to keep most scholarships and tuition waivers, students must maintain a certain GPA. In order to maintain financial aid, students must keep a C average. College is an investment of your time and money. If you miss class and your grades suffer, how you pay for college may suffer too. 

Students that attend class on a regular basis perform better in class. By participating in class discussions and asking questions about material, students will be engaged and have a much better understanding of not only what is needed to pass the coming exam, but moreover, what is needed to be successful in their careers once school is behind them and the real world is their playground.