It is absolutely vital that you attend class regularly. Missing a class should be a rare occurrence; something that happens at most once or twice a semester. If you miss class more than this, it will interfere with your learning and have a negative affect your performance and your grade.
A prerequisite to success in any in any endeavor is "showing up", and classes are no exception. If you're not showing up to class, you're forfeiting every opportunity provided to you in the classroom.
Going to class does far more than simply giving you credit for attendance. Class attendance facilitates learning in a variety of ways, and here are just a few:
- Lectures and classes supplement reading assignments. Class gives you another perspective on the material besides just the textbook. Even if you think you already understand the material well, classes always adds something new. The teacher may go over examples or applications you haven't seen, concepts in class may be presented in a different way than in the text, and student questions and discussion may elaborate on the material or provide new insights.
- Teachers often use questions or class discussion to enhance critical thinking skills. Attending class can be an opportunity for you to engage the material with the guidance of the teacher and the help of your classmates. A teacher may pose a question or lead a discussion in class that directs you to make connections between concepts and helps you to think about the material in new ways.
- If you pay attention in class, you may be surprised by how much you can cut your study time later on. No textbook can explain something to you like another person can. Even if teachers seem as though they are just going through the material in the book, there will always be added clarification and insights that you can discover in class. Time in class is one to two hours during which you are actively thinking about the material and practicing it.
- Your teacher will emphasize the important concepts, giving you a better idea of what is important and what you should focus on. The teacher is an expert on the material, and they design their lessons to organize the main ideas and extract the important concepts. Attending class and taking good notes can help you to put the ideas together and focus on what is important.
- Some teachers are not very textbook oriented. Their lessons may be very different from the way the textbook presents the material, and class may be used to convey the teachers's own perspectives. In a class like this, test questions will more than likely be based on lecture notes rather than the text, so attending class and taking good notes will be one of your best preparations for exams.
- Classes give you more interaction with the teacher and other students in the class. Attending and participating in class shows the teacher that you are a serious student who is taking responsibility for your education and making an effort to learn. This increases the likelihood of finding mentors and role models who can help guide you in your academic, career, and personal development. In addition, class time is a chance to meet and interact with other students in your class. This can help you to form study groups or meet other students with your interests.
- Taking your own notes during a class is more useful than getting a copy of someone else's notes (even the teacher's). In a recent study, only 8% of students reported that getting class notes from a missed class is as useful as attending class. Additionally, this 8% who thought borrowed notes were as good as going to class had significantly lower reported grade point averages than those who valued class attendance more. The act of attending class and writing down your own notes will help you to learn the material and solidify your understanding in a way that is much more effective than when you miss class and read someone else's notes.
Occasionally, you may have to miss a class due to illness or an important obligation. However, this should be a very rare occurrence. You should not miss class just because you don't want to go or there is something else you would rather do. Realize that going to class is the default expectation --- it is not a decision that needs to be made. In addition:
Some students mistakenly think this is prioritizing; in reality it is nothing more than poor time management. Doing work for one class should not be done at the expense of another course. This will only hurt your overall academic career and not benefit you in any way.
If you do miss class, get the notes from a classmate rather than ask your teachers for a copy of theirs. Teachers are busy, and often don't have time to do extra work each time a student misses a class. It is your responsibility to attend class, and your responsibility to get get caught up on the rare occasions you are absent.
There is a strong correlation between the number of absences a student has and their final course grade. Skipping class can be a fast track to poor performance, increased stress and anxiety, a lower GPA, and even dropping out of school. It is something you should avoid at all costs.