As a University student, I often skip class for a multitude of reasons. This includes poor weather conditions, the fact that the learning materials are easily accessible online, and sometimes I already know the material being taught. I also find that I can learn better on my own and at my own pace, and I save time and money on transportation. When the course materials are available online and attendance isn’t being marked, the decision to study at home is stress-free and seems more logical. I’m able to study on my own and I still have the opportunity to ask questions through email if I get stuck on something. Generally, there are videos online which I can fast forward through to find what I need in order to understand a topic. Physically going to school to learn is inconvenient when I’m able to find everything I need online. For any professor reading this and feeling under attack, I don’t mean to say that your teaching isn’t valuable, or that your time is less valuable than mine. I just feel more comfortable studying at home and personally speaking, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
However, this option might only be available for select majors, like mine: Computing and Information Systems. Other degrees at Trent like Nursing and Biology, which require frequent lab time, and Classics, which often mark attendance, would make it impossible to miss class like I do. When it comes to my degree, however, there are many courses which cover topics I’ve learned on my own time, such as web development or certain programming languages like C# or Java. I’ve regretted attending these lectures in the past because I often don’t learn anything new. I also wind up spending at least two hours preparing for class and commuting to school, which is time that could be better spent doing something productive, like studying or housework. Based on my experience when visiting fellow university friends, this is something that often gets neglected due to a busy schedule or stress; two things I no longer deal with, now that I study from home.
Despite the advantages, there are some struggles which make staying home difficult to maintain. Obviously, professors don’t plan their classes with the hopes that less students will show up. Instead, labs and lectures are mandatory because, for most people, a structured learning system makes it easier to work hard and stay consistent by removing distractions. It also forces students to spend their time in a productive learning environment. If you spend every day in a library, eventually you’re going to pick up a book, right? Of course, this isn’t a bad thing, but for students who are able to maintain focus and discipline on their own, it disrupts their schedule and forces them to choose between getting participation marks and the feeling of losing valuable time.
Another disadvantage is that some professors don’t post their lecture notes online. Others don’t post anything online, aside from the syllabus, which makes it much more difficult to know what to study and which content will be covered on an exam. However, it’s still manageable for some students to work from home.
As well, the social stigma surrounding classroom absence is hard to ignore. One of the biggest struggles I had was trying to help my dad understand why I wasn’t going to school. After all, how can you perform well in school if you never show up? But the truth is, I study just as hard as I would if I were physically in school. I provided him with logical reasons why I wasn’t going to class, but it took him a long time to understand. He still believes I’m missing out on a valuable experience, but he accepts that my circumstances are greatly different than they were for him, and even different from how it is now for others. I’m fortunate enough to be able to study from the comfort of my own home, where I don’t need to worry about the stresses of being on time or packing a lunch. But regardless of your environment, whether it’s in school, at home, or in the local library, the most important thing is that you’re able to learn.