Friday, January 9, 2009

Attendence Policies Suck

Truth be told, I was in college once upon a time. It was kinda fun, being out on your own. Buying your own food, sleeping whenever you feel like. For some people, fucking whenever you feel like. Lots of great times, right? And of course, college classes themselves are usually pretty flexible. Yet, there are still some limitations. For some classes, there aren't any attendance requirements. These are the lectures, and they don't bother taking roll because the class is just so damn huge. This is awesome if you're smart and lazy, because all you have to do is study at home, and you'll only really be required to go to three class days: once to take the midterm, once to turn in the paper, and once to take the final. Of course, there are other classes which will be much smaller discussion-based classes, and those do take attendance.

Now, a lot of classes also have a dual form, in that there will be a lecture section as well as a discussion section. You'll have to attend one, and the other will be flexible. I always opted out of attending lectures when I could, because they were fucking boring as hell. And I like to think of myself as a relatively bright guy. Of course, attendance did bite me in the ass once, and I barely got by.
Here's the story.

Well, there was one class I really wanted to get into.
I couldn't get into this History class, cause it was full at the beginning. So I just put myself on the waitlist and went to this other class, which was Business economics or something. After 2 weeks of classes, enough people finally dropped out for me to get added to the History class. Which was cool. So I start attending the discussions with the TA, which require mandatory attendance. The lecture sessions aren't, which was fine. Cause the class was 20th Century History, the easiest history there is. Well, one discussion I decide to miss, cause I was feeling under the weather that day. At the end of the semester, the TA pulls me aside and tells me I'm gonna fail, cause I've missed 3 out of 10 discussions. You'll remember I missed 2 at the beginning because I wasn't formally enrolled, and the other 1. Now, I had gotten an A- on the midterm in this class. This is not a class that you can legitimately claim that I do not know the material. So I tell him I missed the first 2 because I was on the waitlist and was attending the other class at the time. He looks at me regretfully and says that 2 absences are allowed, but 3 is too much. So I'm like... "dude, I've got an A- on the midterm, I'm not sure what I'll get on the final but I bet it'll be pretty good too, this is complete bullshit."

So finally, he tells me that if I can show proof, like a letter, that I had been attending that other class for the 2 weeks, he'll let it slide. Well then, I diligently track down the professor for this Business Economics class that I had been in, go to her office hours, wait a bit while she helps out her students with their math problems, and fucking beg her to write this letter for me. Of course, she needs proof, so I pull out these lecture notes that I'd taken and somehow saved from the 2nd week, and she writes it. I'm not streaming tears from my eyes, but it was a big relief, let me tell you. So I take the final exam and just slap the letter down in front of my TA as I'm handing it in. Problem solved.

The moral of the story? Attendence is overrated. Listen up TAs... just because some kid in your class happens to miss a couple of classes, it doesn't mean they don't know the material. Give em the benefit of the doubt.

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