2 Attendance

The Importance of Being There

Attendance is the first part of success in a college class. During classes your instructors will teach the course by explaining concepts, discussing readings, discussing assignments, leading exercises, and interacting with YOU. While you can and should read an assignment sheet, your instructor will probably offer suggestions about how to approach the assignment or how to brainstorm a topic. You’ll miss these discussions if you’re not in class. Class time allows for exploration of key concepts and explanation from an expert in the subject: your instructor.

If you’re not in class, you won’t be fully prepared to complete assignments. For example, if a writing project requires scholarly sources, and class activities have defined those sources, then you may fail an assignment if you’ve missed those classes. You can ask friends or classmates describe the class, but they may not give you the correct information, or the complete version of the information. Your best strategy is to attend every class possible.

Of course, sometimes absences are unavoidable. If you’re a member of an athletic team, you may have to travel. You may wake up with some unpleasant illness that makes your course attendance a bad idea for everyone in the class. You may be involved in a car accident, or have some home emergency. Life finds a way to interfere with our planning in a variety of ways. You have to be prepared to deal with that. You can also be proactive in preventing missed classes. When possible, avoid making doctor’s appointments during or shortly before class time. If your parents make your appointments, give them your schedule (and maybe remind them just how much college costs).

Even if you have an unavoidable reason for missing class, you need to remember that you’re still responsible for the course work. Depending on how your instructor collects homework, you may need to ensure that you post your work in Blackboard, or send your instructor a copy of your work attached to an email. Sometimes, students think a good excuse is like a “get out of jail free card” and they’re no longer responsible for the work. Those students don’t pass.


“I was absent; did I miss anything?”

Avoid asking your instructors this question. You’re not thinking of your . Remember, most instructors will answer this questions with “Yes!” or “Of course!” Instructors spend time planning lessons and then spend time teaching them. If you ask this type of question, you may unintentionally present yourself as a lazy student. If you do have to miss class and want to contact your instructor, which isn’t a bad idea, use some strategy:

  • When you ask a question make it specific: “Did we spend the whole class discussing the homework reading or did we start a new topic?” You should be aware of the work being done in the class.
  • It’s a good idea to ask about next steps: “I see the next assignment is posted on Blackboard. I think you’re asking us to do X, is that right?”
  • Show that despite your absence, you’re still participating in the course: “I see that you posted the next writing project’s assignment sheet in Blackboard. When will need to choose a topic?”


Attendance Policy

In Colorado State University-Pueblo’s First Year Writing classes we limit your absences to three weeks of class time (that’s nine absences for a MWF course or six absences for a TTH course). This doesn’t mean that you should miss three weeks of class. Instead, three weeks is the MAXIMUM time that you may miss the course. Any further absences (full or partial) will result in a grade reduction of thirty percent. This means your final grade will be limited to a D or an F, and the F will be more likely. To earn the D, you would need to be producing a level work in your participation and in your Writing Projects. You don’t want to find yourself in the position of working really hard to earn a D.
Any absence for any reason counts as part of the three weeks that you’re allowed. Remember this. There is no such thing as an excused absence. 
This may seem harsh, but actually, it’s a generous policy. Can you think of a job that would allow you to miss three weeks in a time period of four months? I haven’t had one of those jobs. And the students who miss this much usually aren’t passing because they’re not completing the course work; attending class is part of that work.
*If you’re more than fifteen minutes late or leave early, this will count as a partial absence. This can also cause you to incur the attendance penalty. Be aware of what your instructor’s late policy may be.


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Writing and Rhetoric by Heather Hopkins Bowers; Anthony Ruggiero; and Jason Saphara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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