When professors cancel class, students pay

Kelly Copeland

Assistant Editor 

Students often skip class for one reason or another, but what happens when a professor repeatedly misses class for an appointment, a meeting or other reasons?

When do students stop counting their blessings and start adding up the money they are losing?

Dean of Enrollment Services Dan Preston said thinking about how much money is lost when a class is canceled does not give an accurate representation of what is actually being missed.

“You can quote a tuition price and divide it by the credit and class, but when you look at it as a continuum, it is a different matter,” he said.

Preston said when a student enrolls for a class they are paying for more than just the professor’s instruction time. He said tuition goes toward funding many things, such as the facilities, the work done by the Registrar’s Office and the preparation time of the professor.

He said most students do not pay full tuition, but rely on scholarships, so it would be nearly impossible to determine how much students should be compensated for the class time lost.

Still, it may be hard for students to not quantify each class. For the 2008-2009 school year, tuition has risen to $13,575 per semester. A student taking 16 credits for one semester pays approximately $848.44 per credit, and a total of $3,393.75 for a four-credit class.

For that four-credit class, meeting three days a week for 42 weeks, students lose $80.80 per class period, with no other factors being taken into consideration.

Associate Dean of Faculty Liz Atkinson said if a professor is aware he or she will be unable to attend class, they are obligated to provide an alternate activity so students can still use the time they would otherwise spend
in class.

“As we all know, learning happens inside and outside the classroom,” Atkinson said.

Where extended absence is necessary because of illness or other emergency situations, the dean, in consultation with the department head, shall be responsible for making alternative instructional arrangements.

Atkinson said there are always exceptions to the policy, and that the compensation for missed classes varies in individual situations.

When professors cancel class once or twice, most students rejoice at the unexpected free time, but start to get upset when one or two days turn into four or five.

For students like sophomore Hannah Sanford, having class canceled frequently becomes more of a burden than
a convenience.

Sanford said she has taken several courses where the professor frequently canceled class for meetings or appointments. At first it didn’t bother her, but she said when it began to happen more often, the less she benefited from course material.

“Missing classes throws off the whole class schedule,” she said. “When you miss enough days, it’s harder to get back on track. It’s confusing because you forget what you learned before.”

While Sanford doesn’t worry about not getting her money’s worth when classes are canceled, she said she has several friends who refuse to skip their classes for that reason.

“It’s more (of a problem) when you miss a lot of class and start to miss out on the experience,” Sanford said.

Atkinson said while it can be frustrating for students when classes are canceled, it is often necessary for professors to do so to fulfill other obligations that come with their title.

“If a faculty member is going to a conference (as part of) their academic duty, that is important,” Atkinson said. “We want all of our faculty to stay current in their profession.”

Sanford said she would prefer the professor notify students of the absence in advance. She said she recently had a professor cancel class at the last minute on the day she was scheduled to give a speech.

“It’s worse when they send you something that day,” Sanford said. “Not only does it throw the schedule off, but when you miss an important project, it throws your personal life off too.” 

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