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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 25, 1998)
Why are we here?
_Mandatory attendance policies offer few worthwhile incentives
MATTHEW EICKMAN is a
senior finance and eco
nomics major and a Daily
Oh, the honor.
“Attendance for this class is
required. After 3 absences, you will be
dropped a letter grade.”
Those words are possibly the
scariest thing that could happen to col
lege students. I know what you’re
thinking. Yes, it’s true. Opening up
your Victoria’s Secret to find
Roseanne Ban would not be as scary.
It’s interesting that a syllabus can
devote as much space to the atten
dance policy as it does to the goals and
objectives of the class.
It’s also interesting that a word as
simple as “attendance” can become
devastating with the simple modifier
mese required anenaance poli
cies evaluate students quantitatively,
rather than qualitatively. They tell you
that a certain number of classes must
be attended in order for you to hold
onto the grade you have earned.
I have a deal to make with you.
Instead of me showing up each class
with a hat pulled down over my face,
yellow junk in the comers of my eyes
and moist drool on my face, I’ll make
a concerted effort to learn the material.
I may only come once a week, but
it will be on my own terms. I will take
my weekly shower before class, par
ticipate in class, show some responsi
bility by learning all the material and
get As on all the tests.
While some professors may buy
into the deal, many will sit strictly and
mandate that we serve each daily sen
tence as scheduled.
Why should our success in a class
be determined by my weekly concrete
wall time? I realize that we are sup
posed to be sponges, but when we
HAVE to be there, the information
bounces off immediately.
Professors are going to lower our
grades if we’re not there, huh? If
someone can demonstrate that he has
learned an A’s worth of material, why
should he get a B?
I suppose it’s because grades
depend on much more than tests. If so,
then classes need to be taught with this
Grade us on the leadership and
creativity we show in group presenta
tions. Grade us on the personal
improvements we display as we over
come our shyness and participate in
Don’t grade me on how well my
sorry ass fills out a seat.
If my ass determines what grade I
deserve, than I’m basically in trouble
anyway. Besides, this ass would prob
ably rather be on a couch in front of a
Give quizzes and have group dis
uei 10 Know siuaenis names so
you know who is struggling and who
Do something so students aren’t
simply concrete walls. Do not be
Professors may feel it’s disrespect
ful for students to skip class. They may
say we are wasting their time. Well, if
we show up we may be wasting our
If we don’t show up occasionally,
they will still have others to teach. The
students who may need assistance will
be happy because they may receive
more personal attention.
Some learn differently. Some may
come to class every day because they
are auditory learners. They may treat
class as an appointment, and they will
be upholding their honor by attending.
Those that don’t show up occa
sionally don’t feel that way. While oth
ers are at their appointments, the skip
pers probably have an important game
of spades or NFL Game Day to play.
Who cares what they are doing? If
the class is not worthwhile, and the
students determine they will not get
anything out of the trip, they probably
In this case, everyone wins. Those
that want or need to go to class will be
satisfied, and those that don’t want to
pause their PlayStations will be happy.
So, let us decide. Is it worthwhile,
or can I get the same knowledge and
experiences by reading the textbook?
If you build it, they will come. If
you teach it, they will learn.
Yes, people will come if they need
to. If students feel they will learn from
die class, they will have their butts in
When grade inflation became such
a popular topic last year, it amazed me
that required attendance was not
attached to the issue.
Basically, they are both the results
of cop-outs used by educators.
“Oh, I’m not teaching very well.
I’ll bump the grades up.”
“Oh, no one comes because I’m
not teaching very well. I’ll make .
them come.” m
The issues are tied together
because they both are brought
about by education defla
Our education ^ /
educators won’t reach out to ffl
the students. They may slap a /
mandatory attendance policy onus 1
but then not even test over lectures. If
we are forced to come to class, there
had better be some incentive.
Some professors are very good
about overcoming the educational j
decline. On the first day of class, I i
had a professor inform us that atten- m
dance is not mandatory, and we |
will not be graded for it. 1
However, he asked that we at I
least come every day until the first 1
test. Then, after taking the exam, /l
we could decide whether or not / i
we needed to be there. I m
He didn’t want us to make
an uninformed decision. By W
this time we would have infor- I
mation on hand from which to I
When a professor does this, %
students get the message that
the class will probably be
never seen an
Others reach out to students in
their own ways. They have joke time.
They use film and the Internet to dis
cuss topics relevant to the students.
They memorize students’ names.
These professors are also likely to
hold students responsible for material
learned in class. Not
just class time, but
money is not
fee. It is a
ticket to a strong education. If we get
the full value of our ticket from a
book, we won’t come to class.
Professors can require us to be
there, but the education still won’t be
reaching its consumers.
If they don’t want to accept my
deal, they should at
least supply a coun
. To use my “Get out of
jail free” card, I must
^ admit that my current
If1 professors have
'' VfL ^A /offered me a fair
AT They have built it,
V % A L and I come. They
teach it, and I learn.
IV y A simple questioning
I of any of my high school
I teachers would reveal my
attendance to be an
f . I incredible revelation.
\® VI They have shown
V® M me that I need to be
• 3^^" 1 there, and not that I
I l\ /^^have t0 be
"Y | I hadn’t wasted the
% ft last four semesters
II searching for
motivation, I may
NA have actually
1 learned from
I my classes.
In fact, my
I r e s h m a n
1 roommate and
—A ■ I may have actual
% ly attended a few
M Knowing Jeff
_JF and myself, proba
bly not. But it
Do or do not
Students should dare to make most out of life by choosing a career they will love
AARON COOPER is a
senior English major and
a Daily Nebraskan colum
Sometimes the future seems like
it will never get here. Then, when we
get busy and try to deal with things
that are happening right now, it
sneaks up on us and the cycle repeats
Seriously, do you remember sit
ting in a boring math class as a junior
in high school and thinking gradua
tion would never come? Then, the
next thing you know you’re walking
across a stage wondering what hap
pened to the last four years.
Now you’re sitting in a different
boring math class, reading the paper
before a lesson in derivatives will
begin, and the same thing comes to
For some people, I think it ’s the
same question. For others, maybe
you aren’t quite ready to leave
behind the things that only a univer
sity can provide. Regardless of the
question, it exists nonetheless.
What will I do after I graduate?
Now that we’re all hopelessly
institutionalized, where will we end
up after the end of our seventh senior
year finally arrives? Flipping burg
ers in Iowa? Working as a bartender
in New York? Flying a private plane
for a tycoon in the Bahamas?
Some days, we think we’ve got it
all figured out. Other days, maybe
we’re riot so sure about things. There
has to be a middle ground between
the state of hopelessness and having
perfect direction. So how do we fig
ure out what that is?
uver tne summer, i worked
among the movers and the shakers in
Chicago at the National Lutheran
Center. One Tuesday morning, I
made it downstairs just in time for a
weekly chapel service. Once it had
begun, we came to the point where
the guest preacher for the week was
ready to give his sermon.
He talked a bit about the lessons
for the week, then proceeded to talk
about his life as a minister. As time
had dictated, he was about to enter
retirement, and he talked of the ups
and downs of his career over the past
Before he ended the sermon, he
talked of growing up on a farm and
having to carry out his daily chores.
One day, he said, he had been told to
shovel a pile of manure onto a
As he was out on the farm, carry
ing out a task I can thankfully say I
haven’t had the pleasure of perform
ing, something happened to him.
He said that while he stood in
that pile of manure, he found his
calling. From that moment, he was
destined to be a pastor and he never
regretted the choices he made during
We all face pressures that some
times seem overbearing. Maybe we
have days when we wonder if it is all
worth the energy we put into this col
lege thing, and maybe other days we
feel invincible. But as long as we’re
still playing the game, we’re that
much closer to figuring things out.
as i listened to tne minister s tes
timony about the nature of his life
and the results of his decisions, it
only amplified a truth that I already
believed to exist - we make the best
decisions we can, and the rest is out
of our control.
You want to be a doctor? Fine, go
to medical school. But remember
that no amount of money will buy
you long-term happiness. So if you
decide it isn’t right, then don’t just
go through the motions.
MAKE A CHANGE.
Somewhere in America there is a
22-year-old college graduate who
will go to law school for two years
and then decide she wants to be a
Somewhere in America, there is
a 7-year-old boy who wants to be a
fireman when he grows up. Maybe
when he gets to college, he’ll decide
to major in architecture and design
the next Taj Mahal. What matters is
that he follows his heart and doesn’t
subject himself to what everyone
else thinks he should do or become.
Somewhere in America there is a
second-year college student who has
changed her major five times in less
than two years and is on the verge of
Sometimes, patience seems like
a never-ending battle, but it is a bat
tle worth fighting nonetheless. If
you get in a hurry, then you might go
nowhere faster than you would like.
It’s better to take your time? and go
somewhere meaningful than rush to
the wrong place and wish you’d
thought things out more carefully.
If you reach 50 mid still haven’t
decided what you want to do, then
you might want to merge a bit farther
into that fast lane.
I am one of the lucky ones, I
guess. I have retained the same
major since my first day here and
have scarcely had to question my
goals for the future. Plus, I am inch
ing toward a dream that was bom in
the mind of a second-grader who
was then about knee-high to a
But everything is not laid out for
me just yet. I wouldn’t want it to be,
because then there would be no
adventure. Graduate school? Maybe.
Probably. But where and for how
long has yet to be determined.
I don’t know, and I like not know
ing. Sometimes life deals out oppor
tunities that you can only embrace if
you are willing to be flexible.
Don’t look back.
Our generation will determine
our future, no one else. If you want
to be the next Vincent van Gogh or
Emily Dickinson, by all means fight
the good fight.
Better yet, don’t be the next van
Gogh or Dickinson or even the next
Michael Jordan. Be the first Tom
Chambers or Allison Foster. Be dif
ferent and be it LOUDLY.
ii you are suojeciea 10 iuj peo
ple telling you “No thank you” as a
painter, 237 rejection slips as a
writer, or 312 people telling you
“We’re looking for something else”
as an aspiring actor, SO BE IT.
Cooper’s Law: Falling down
doesn’t mean you ’re out of the game.
Staying down does.
Hey, that’s catchy. Maybe I
should become a songwriter and
form a band. We’ll be called -
hmmm - how about
Chumbawumba? Yeah, that’s it.
We’ll sing the songs that remind us
of the good times, and maybe we’ll
even sing the songs that remind us of
the best times.
As for the manure? Well, let’s
leave that for our old friend, Biff
I’m sure he’s due for his annual
McFly special right about now.
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