Mandatory Attendance and Its Impact

Man hold Attendance clipboard with checklist. Questionnaire, survey, clipboard, task list. Flat design, vector illustration on background

This semester has been weird in every way. Trying to balance a social life, academics, work and personal life is hard enough for a college student, but COVID-19 just complicates things even more. Of course, we need to stay safe during this pandemic. But, there’s still the desire for fulfillment, satisfaction and balance in our lives. 

COVID-19 regulations have interrupted something for us all in one way or another. Eating out, meeting new people and physical contact are all discouraged, along with so many other things. But in the midst of it all, there have been some regulations that have been viewed as highly beneficial to the students at Southern Adventist University.

As we all know, attendance is not mandatory for classes this semester. While some professors have been marking attendance as participation points, for the most part, going to class is not a requirement. I recently did a poll on my personal Instagram story to see how students felt about this. The question I asked was, “Do you like that class attendance is not mandatory this semester?” Out of 57 votes from Southern students, the answer was a unanimous “yes.”

This wasn’t surprising to me at all. It was pretty obvious that, of course, college students naturally wouldn’t want to go to most of their classes. But everyone has their own reasons. So, I then asked the question, in a different poll, “How have non-mandatory classes benefited you?” to see if there were reasons besides simply wanting to skip. And of course, there were.

“I’ve been able to catch up on more difficult classes’ homework during lectures that are simpler,” said Austin Bates, a sophomore theology major. 

Many other students shared that they felt the same way. Having the option to simply use Zoom to attend lectures, or to not go at all, gives students more time to finish bigger assignments, projects and homework for classes that they struggle with.

“I don’t feel as pressured to attend if I don’t feel 100%,” said Elizabeth Hawthorne, a junior English major. 

This also seemed to be a fairly common response amongst most students. 

“I can take self-care days when I need them,” said Kaitlyn Deaux, a sophomore social work major. 

Being able to take mental health breaks is extremely important to students as we’re constantly under a lot of pressure and stress, especially now that Southern removed fall break and shortened spring break. So, not being required to attend classes, and being able to do the work on our own time, has definitely alleviated some of the pressure for most students.

Out of all the COVID-19 regulations, this is one that most students don’t have any complaints about. It has done more good than harm to us. And, for me personally, it has helped bring a much better balance to my life and has been especially beneficial for my mental health. I hope that once this pandemic is over, whenever that may be, that non-mandatory attendance is something the administration will keep for their students’ sake. 

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