Virginia Wesleyan requires professors to take attendance for record-keeping purposes, but each staff member’s attendance policy varies based on what they see fit for their class.
The rules indicate that taking attendance is required, but penalization is not. “Whether or not a particular teacher chooses to penalize absences, we are supposed to take attendance regularly because there are attendance conditions on most types of student financial aid, and we have to give accurate accounting for such,” Media and Communication Professor Stu Minnis said.
Senior Jazlyn Delance has seen changes in the care given to attendance throughout her years. “My professors are way more lenient compared to my first year here. At some point in my freshman year, I know there was a limited amount of excused absences I could have,” she said.
First-year Alex Lesnik said she felt she would not attend class less if professors were not required to take attendance. “I don’t think I’d attend less, I think it would be about the same. If I need a break, I listen to myself because when I get overwhelmed,” Lesnik said.
With that being said, Lesnik still keeps herself accountable. “I try not to [take these breaks] too often,” she said.
Because attendance policies vary for each professor, it falls to the students to check each individual policy.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who actively attend school have been shown to achieve at higher levels than those who don’t attend as regularly. However, according to Minnis, students not showing up to class is not necessarily a big issue. “It does seem like attendance is slightly worse than it was pre-COVID, but it isn’t a huge difference, at least not for me. The bigger problem I’ve seen is students not doing work on time or at all,” Minnis said.
Dr. Sara Ryan, a professor in the English department, was also willing to share her perspective on the situation and the work completion of students. “This [work completion] is where I’ve seen the most drastic change,” Ryan said. “Now, having students turn in work on time is much more of a concern than it has been for me in the past.”
She elaborated on her related academic concerns for her students. “I think, ultimately, organization and time management and self-responsibility are things that students are struggling with. This is something that I think all college students inevitably struggle with, but perhaps it’s more of an issue than it was in the past. All these struggles directly affect attendance and completed work, so I think they’re all connected.”
Community consensus points to attendance and academic success showing correlation, although other factors may be in play regarding student participation and engagement.
By Cecilia Candelaria