It’s the first Monday of syllabus week and three of your professors say the words every undergrad dreams of hearing: attendance is recommended but not mandatory. While many college students will interpret these six words as “only attend class on test days and due dates,” physically going to class will always have a positive impact on your grades, studies, and college experience as a whole. Here are five reasons to get up and out of bed for that optional 9 am class:
1. Build a relationship with your professor
If you only show up for class three times a semester, you will have no idea who your professor is, but more importantly, he’ll have no idea who you are. While this may seem trivial, many graduate schools or employers will require letters of recommendations from professors. If you never go to class, you can’t expect any of your professors to have anything valuable to say about you. However, going to class, attending office hours, participating and lectures, and making yourself known in that lecture hall of 300 students will give your professor a good reason to brag about you to potential employers.
While it may seem logical to simply ask a friend to send you notes, other people may not be as trustworthy of sources as you may initially think. Who’s to say your friend doesn’t doze off for 20 minutes every lecture? Who’s to say your classmate isn’t only sending you a portion of the notes to sabotage your test grade and reward himself for actually attending class? The most trustworthy source of information comes straight from your professor’s mouth directly into your notebook. Attending class and taking your own notes will ensure you reach your highest potential around test time. If you don’t already consider yourself a great note taker, try a couple of these 12 note taking apps!
3. Less studying for exams
Every time you sit in class and take notes, this is a form of preliminary studying, as you’re digesting information from both the auditory and visual ends. If you’re sent the notes from a friend, many concepts may seem foreign and confusing to you, and it’s unfortunately a little too late to ask any questions at that point. Actually attending class and taking your own notes will ensure that the material is clear and understandable to your brain specifically. Since you’ve already learned the information once, when you sit down to study, concepts will already be familiar to you and you’ll be able to slash those otherwise painful hours of studying considerably.
4. Extra credit opportunities and non-syllabus information
Professors aren’t stupid, they know making attendance optional will deter a large portion of their class from actually attending. Many professors take this opportunity to reward the students who actually do attend class, oftentimes with arbitrary points of extra credit. It may not seem like much, but those points will count at the end of the semester when you’re at a B+ and on the brink of an A-. Additionally, professors may stray from the structure of the syllabus and change due dates and curriculum content, and you really don’t want to be the student who misses a test because it was announced in class that it would be postponed a week.
5. What is your tuition money going towards, if not going to class?
While it may seem nice in theory, no one wants to look back on a college experience and remember seemingly endless hours of sitting in a dorm room and watching TV. If you don’t attend class, you’ll lose an excuse to leave the house, venture to campus, meet new people, learn new things, and really optimize your experiences to the fullest extent. You’re only an undergrad once and your eight semesters will fly by — make sure to make every minute of them count.
Although it may seem that sitting through 50 minutes of an optional Friday morning lecture is the last thing you want to do after a long night out, pushing yourself to attend class will have so many positive effects on both your grades and your development as a whole. It’s okay to miss a couple lectures, but do your best to be present and actively listening at as many classes as you possibly can!
By: Natalie Kessler