Too fool for school

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Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 29 2013

By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Before you consider skipping class, try to remember why you’re in school. Some of you may desire a quality job or have a thirst for knowledge. Others may be searching for new interests or re-evaluating an important life choice. Whatever your reason for being in school is, I’m sure wasting money and time is not one of them.

But hey, it’s your money and it’s your time, so why should I care? Because education is a commodity. By missing class, you’re taking up a spot for a student who actually wants to be there and learn. Not all of us are blessed with the luxury of time. With class limits and waiting lists, you may end up forcing those people to wait another semester or another year. Hell, you might even be forcing them to forgo the plans of school altogether. That is a crime akin to stealing, and it should be punished. Of course, we all get sick now and then—that’s unavoidable—but to miss class just because of your indolence is unacceptable.

Incentives may help some students to focus and excel, but not all respond to positive reinforcement. Tough love is often required to assist in developing work ethic and responsibility. Some believe that it is the parents‘ or guardians’ choice whether or not to discipline a child, even when they skip class. But I don’t. I remember the old proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many institutions in North America and the UK are starting to adopt that mentality by introducing fines to students and their families for unexcused absences. Those schools that implemented the proposal found attendance improved significantly. Although some students and parents view the law with skepticism, I believe that it might just be what we need, especially when tuition fees are so high. Use the fine for a scholarship, or to improve the education system; it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s going to a more deserving place.

School and work aren’t always fun, but life isn’t always fun. Still, you wake up every day and continue plugging away. If you don’t show up to work, you’ll be fired, so why shouldn’t it be the same with school? Just because you paid tuition doesn’t make it any less of an obligation, especially in a class that relies on you to have certain knowledge. Group projects are a vital part of most courses now. School should be a place to network and meet people and develop employment skills. It is not so strange to think of your classmates as co-workers, or even employers one day. Imagine that. Imagine the reputation you have in the classroom. Ask yourself, are you someone people would rely on to do a class project with? Or are you the chubby kid selected last in a dodge ball game?

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