When I walked into my first ever college class and heard my teacher address their personal classroom attendance policy, I almost fell out of my chair. She told us that there is no difference between an excused or unexcused absence, you only get three of them before automatically failing the course, and you can’t make up any in-class activities from the class you missed unless you’ve coordinated with them a week in advance.

Being the optimistic first-semester freshman that I was, I assumed that most professors would be more lenient since my college’s official attendance policy leaves all official decisions up to the professor. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Three out of five of my first semester classes had the exact same policy. Now, in my second semester, four out of five have the same policy.

I’m not the kind of person who just decides not to go to class because I don’t feel like it, so when I can’t make it, there’s a reason! On syllabus day, almost every professor says the words, “If you’re not here, don’t email me and tell me why. I don’t care.” Professors, I get it! You have 300 students each semester and a life outside of your job, but there is a difference between a student who doesn’t want to come to class because they’re going to the beach and a student who doesn’t want to come because they have the flu. The difference is, the kid with the flu will probably still show up… because of your attendance policy.

Professors, if you don’t want to administer tests, quizzes, or graded in-class activities to students who missed class because they were frolicking on the beach, that’s one thing. But the rules that state a student can’t make up work and will fail the course if they miss more than three classes is the reason that illnesses are so wide-spread on college campuses. If a student has a doctor’s excuse (or is even visibly ill!), be a good person and let them make up their work during your office hours! You’re getting paid to be there anyway, what does that hurt?

This being said, this expression of basic human decency should be extended to all other unavoidable events as well, such as the of a death of a loved one, a parent falling ill, or another inescapable crisis. Students have so much on their plates as it is. No one should have to worry about failing their courses in the midst of a personal emergency.

I think I speak for all students when I say THANK YOU to the professors who care about their students and try to work with them in situations they have no control over.

Your kindness and understanding mean more than you know.