The average three-credit class at the College of William and Mary costs $975 for in-state students and $3,090 for out-of-state students. Meeting three times per week, each session costs either $23.21 or $73.57, respectively. Students paying their way through college should not be told they must attend class, or at least use their time deliberately, but the rest of us could use a reminder every now and then.
In an unstable economy, students need to keep in mind the cost of attending college. It is first and foremost an investment, not only in future employment, but also in character and identity. We need the tools and experiences the College provides us, and part of those experiences includes taking and attending classes.
Of course, once we get to college, it immediately becomes our responsibility. Having autonomy means we get to make decisions — good or bad. If we are using this freedom correctly, it means we are learning how to prioritize. For example, attending class may not be a priority if you have a midterm the next period. Using the extra time to study will likely earn you a better grade. However, you will also miss a valuable lecture in another class, and you will be forced to obtain the notes elsewhere. Thus, your success is contingent on what you personally need to do, rather than what others expect you to do.
We should, however, respect the effort that goes into those lectures — the ones we attend and the ones we miss. Just as we can spend weeks or even months studying and writing papers, so can professors on crafting their material. Professors must continually adjust and update for new students and ever-changing fields of knowledge; that is no small task. Missing their classes for no good reason wastes their time and is disrespectful to other students who, during registration, may have been shut out of a chance to hear those lectures. We should be mindful of how we use other people’s time, especially those working for our benefit.
For what we are paying, we should expect quality from our professors. As we value the time commitment and funds expended for our education, so should our professors. In whatever class or subject, our professors’ work should reflect that.
If nothing else, college, and the large sums of money we spend on it, should teach us to approach our lives with a sense of consequence. It matters the way we use others’ time and our own. Only briefly, we have access to so many classes that we cannot afford to take for granted. Maturing here requires prioritization, and that may mean forgoing class attendance every once in a while, but that should be to our ultimate benefit and not come at the expense of our education and our wallet.
Abby Boyle recused herself from this staff editorial to remain unbiased in her reporting.