What do you mean you take attendance? This is college! Yes indeed this is college and increasingly college professors are taking attendance. Gone are the days when college kids can party all night and skip class all day. With increasing accountability required on Pell grants, financial aid, scholarships federal, state and local funding, colleges need to record who is taking advantage or abusing system. Often people will say; “but I am paying for this class I can do what I want,” which is true if you are paying for the class out of pocket (and usually students who pay their own way are 99% more likely to attend class and get every penny out of it), but if someone else is paying your way, they want to know that it is money well spent.
Just looking at the Pell grant program alone; a $34 billion government education assistance program. What are known as Pell Runners, are on the rise. Pell runners are students who apply for Pell grants, register for a class with no intention of setting foot in the classroom, receiving the Pell grant funding, and then leaving. A Pell grant can be used for just about anything that assists the student in their educational pursuits. Everything from computers, educational travel, calculators, transportation, personal expenses, and living expenses can be paid for by the Pell grant. For students who need the help the Pell grant is a godsend. As with any free money government assistance program there is bound to be abuse. And the abuse is rampant. What one investigation found is that students are using their Pell grant for expensive computers and then selling those for cash. All that a student has to do to keep the stuff that the Pell money was used for is to attend and pass the class. So some students attend the first week and never to be seen again…until they apply to the next school and try all over. This is where attendance is necessary. It needs to be determined if someone is using or abusing the system. If not properly recorded, the institution will be on the hook for that Pell grant. If attendance is recorded then they can attempt to get the funds back from the student, or at the very least flag that student for abusing the system and freeze their account.
Other scholarships also want accountability for their money, they want to see GPAs and attendance records; they want to ensure that they are spending money for someone to attend school and not just party. On several recent letters of recommendation for scholarships there was a part where I needed to address student attendance, something that I never had to do even 2 years ago.
Not only is funding tied to attendance, so is life. If I am truly preparing my students for the workforce beyond college they need to learn consequences for being late or not showing up. If you are chronically late for work you may be fired. If you just don’t show up to work, you won’t have that job for very long.
It is no wonder the growing number of complaints about attendance, people don’t want accountability; they want their money.