The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | College attendance policies need to be more attainable for students

Some of the classes at our university have unfair and unrealistic attendance policies. There are people who have no choice but to miss it or have other responsibilities that overlap take issue with the attendance policy, there should be more lenient absence policies for college students because they are currently not attainable for every student.
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Brad Calkins
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Strict college attendance policies are unfair and unrealistic for many students.

Several colleges in the nation employ unnecessarily strict attendance policies that only contribute to the stress of students who may be grappling with a job or other responsibilities along with their studies.

Colleges need to revise their attendance policies to make them more lenient for students. Attendance should not count toward a student’s total grade if there are few allotted excused absences. Furthermore, the number of excused or free absence days should be increased.

Professors should absolutely encourage their students to go to class as much as possible, but there are countless possible hardships students could face, such as those who commute from long distances, students who have children, or students who have chronic illnesses. Strict attendance policies are the last thing they need.

It is also time to take full advantage of online education.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the advent of Zoom forever changed and evolved the student learning experience. With Zoom and other virtual class options, students can listen to lectures in real-time, virtually raising their hands in chatrooms to ask questions or discuss in breakout rooms for group projects, just as they would have in person.

These features could still be used if a teacher with a more lenient attendance policy made a Zoom class option for absentee students, still having them learn and participate in real-time for points. Teachers should also do Zoom classes for days with extreme weather that might prohibit some students from reaching campus.

Some may argue that students learn better with in-person classes, which can be true for some. However, this argument does not account for students’ other responsibilities outside of classes.

Students who bear the weight of responsibilities that overlap with their school schedule need to be taken into consideration because they often struggle the most
with attendance.

In a Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning survey from 2008, the most recent study that could be identified on this topic directed toward teachers about attendance policies, some teachers argued against mandated attendance policies because they believe students should come on their own accord.

The University of Iowa allows professors free reign to make their attendance policies as strict as they want, according to the university’s attendance policy.

“Each course may have different class attendance and absence policies, and these are set by the instructor.”

This freedom often results in unnecessary pressure on the student to have perfect attendance, which is not realistic for students who are financially independent.

The estimated cost of attendance for in-state residents at the UI is $23,580 per academic year, according to UI admissions. If a student pays thousands of dollars every year they attend, then they should get to choose when they attend or at least be provided with lenient absence policies.

According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, 75 percent of college students who struggle with mental illness are not motivated to seek help. This is the prime demographic college attendance policies may affect.

There are so many solutions that would help, such as increasing the number of allotted excused absences, lowering attendance grade weight, or offering virtual class options like Zoom for disadvantaged students who cannot make it to class every day.

Colleges must reevaluate stringent attendance policies that disproportionately burden students juggling multiple responsibilities. Shifting toward more lenient policies and incorporating online learning solutions could alleviate stress and enhance the educational experience for students who bear multiple responsibilities outside of school.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Nye, Opinions Columnist
(she/her/hers)
Natalie Nye is a fourth-year Journalism/Mass Communication student with a minor in art at the Univeristy of Iowa. She is an opinions columnist at The Daily Iowan and a freelance writer for Little Village magazine. She also has her own blog, called A Very Public Blog.