A Guide to Failure: Miss Your First Day of Class

Kezia Miller

According to Professors Molly Freimuth and Stephanie Hawk of APO (Annual Performance Objective) project, a distressing 81 percent of students who do not attend the first day of class fail the course. This is significantly different from the 19 percent of students who do not attend the first day of class successfully pass. The students that miss the first day of class, are twice as likely to not complete the course. Of those that missed the first day, 61 percent withdrew from the course compared to a 20 percent withdrawal rate for those students who attended on the first day. Thus, those that missed the first day are three times as likely to withdraw from the course.

“These numbers are shocking!” Professor Freimuth declared.

When trying to determine an area of research for their APO project, the professors decided to look further into a common problem that was often informally discussed within the math department.  “Does first-day attendance indicate how successful the student will be within the entire course?” After reaching out to math and liberal arts instructors to voluntarily collect first day attendance and the corresponding final course grade for each student on their course roster, collected from semesters Fall 2016 to Spring 2018, the results were dramatic.  

Nine full-time math instructors provided data from a total of 17 different math classes and 10 different liberal arts instructors provided data from 16 different liberal arts courses. Over the four semesters, a total of 233 students missed the first day of class, out of the total 2132 students. Adding in the data from the liberal arts courses, 359 students missed the first day of class, out of the total 2986 students.

The students who missed the first day of math class, a staggering 85 percent, were shown to have not successfully complete their course. Only 15 percent passed. When the math data was combined with the liberal arts, an astonishing 80.5 percent didn’t successfully complete their course, while only 19.5 percent passed.

Professors tend to understand that events can happen that can’t always be controlled. There will be times when students are unable to attend the first day of class who aren’t intending to skip class, but must miss due to valid obligations.

Inside this disappointing data, there lies a saving grace. In order for a student to recover the potential of failure, they must care about their studies.

Thus, how do students show their professor they care? They make an effort to connect. The students who reach out to their professors, explaining their absence and asking for information and material they missed, portrays these students’ desires to be successful.  

“There seems to be two different populations of students, the ones who care about their classes and the ones who don’t,” Professors Freimuth and Hawk explain.

Professor Hawk elaborates, “The overall reflection on how a student values the course determines their success.”

Professors Hawk and Freimuth continue; they share specific stories of students that miss their first day of class, successfully pass the course. These stories exhibit the students who were determined to take the proper steps to clarify their absence and obtain the course material they missed. It is crucial that students who simply cannot attend the first day of class communicate with their professors to acquire missed curriculum along with overall course specifics.

As for those unsympathetic students, who miss their first day of class, they should be prepared. These incredible and determined women will continue their research to prove their theory, and create an implementation of intervention to discourage students of first class absenteeism.   

In most cases, the entire first day of class doesn’t solely focus on the tedious explanation of the syllabus as most instructors will begin the course curriculum. So, before skipping class to avoid boredom over easily obtainable information, students should seriously reconsider the possible repercussions of falling behind before class has even started.

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