The cost of cancelling class

The Problem

Midterms are fast approaching, and most students are finally adjusting to college life. For freshmen, college can be quite a change from high school. Time management and prioritization skills are a must. Another skill that students must acquire, if not already in a their toolbox, is financial literacy. Financial literacy isn’t a skill that is taught through a personal finance class, it is practiced and learned.

This is my first semester of college and in the first six weeks of the semester, I’ve had six classes get cancelled. As a student who is personally funding her college education, I am very careful about what I spend my money on. St. Cloud State is one of the most affordable colleges in Minnesota, ranked 3rd according to recruiting presentations. Still, when professors cancel classes, students pay for lessons they are not receiving.

I will go into the financial breakdown in a moment, but besides the financial cost there are other losses involved with cancelling class. When a college class gets cancelled, there isn’t a way to make up that time, which results in lessons being cut or condensed. Another option would be for students having to learn the lesson themselves. That option seems to defeat the purpose of paying for a professor. If students can simply teach themselves with the textbook or resources, professors are not a necessity for learning.

The Breakdown

For in-state residents, the cost of one credit is $241. For a three-credit class, throughout the semester the class meets for a total of 40 hours, usually 50 minutes three times a week. That three-credit class will cost $723. Breaking that down that’s $15 every time the class meets ($723/48 classes).  If a three-credit class only meets twice a week, that raises the cost of cancelling the class to $22.50. Finally, if a three-credit class only meets once a week, that reaches a cost of $45.

In today’s world, $15 may not seem like a lot; some may look at $15 and see a meal at an average priced restaurant. As a working student making slightly above minimum wage (which is $9.65/hour), I see $15 as an extra two hours of work once taxes get taken out. Two hours of work is worth 50 minutes of instruction time; it is not worth receiving no knowledge or having to struggle through learning a lesson by myself.

While many students live on or near campus, there is still a large population that commutes to school every day. As a fellow commuter, I understand the time and money it takes to go to college every day. One of my professors notifies the class by posting a note on the classroom door. For me to find out if there is class that day, I need to drive half an hour one way and spend $5 on gas for the round trip. For my fellow math lovers, that means an extra half an hour of work.

Alternatives

Being an educator is, in simplest terms, a job. Educators deserve time off, sick leave, and wiggle room when emergencies happen. Students deserve the opportunity to receive the education they are paying for. Life happens. Sometimes a professor is unable to make class but, as in high school, finding a substitute should be the next step, not cancelling class. Another option would be to make classes available online when a professor is unable to make class, where students could watch the lesson or participate in the discussion. If those two reasonable solutions are still not possible then professors should, at bare minimum, notify students in advance. Emergencies typically don’t happen ten minutes before class starts or when students are walking into class to see a note posted on the door.

Flip-side

Like almost every topic, the cost of cancelling class is a two-way street. Skipping class costs students the same as if a professor would cancel that class. College students are old enough to understand how they operate. If you are a student who has a hard time waking up in the mornings, it isn’t the smartest idea to register for an 8 am class. Generally speaking, if you find yourself registering for a class that would tempt you to skip it, maybe just consider not taking that class or at least take it at a different time.

Solution

Students go to college to get an education. That education is more than reading textbooks and doing homework, it involves professors sharing their wisdom on topics that students likely haven’t thought about in depth. Professors are a key part of the education process. With that part missing, the cost to students is higher than $15, higher than $22.50, higher than even $45. Knowledge isn’t something one can buy. So, professors, please do us students a favor by not cancelling classes, or at least giving us a heads up. And students, please don’t skip class; invest in yourself.

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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