Does College Attendance Matter For Good Grades?
College students today face a multitude of challenges when it comes to academic success, and one of the most significant may be attendance.
Despite the cost of tuition rising year after year, many students continue to skip classes or neglect their studies, often citing non-economic reasons.
But is this behavior economically rational? And more importantly, does attendance really matter when it comes to academic success?
Studies show that college attendance matters
Decades of research have attempted to answer this question, and the results are clear: class attendance is a strong predictor of collegiate performance. Studies dating back nearly 80 years have found a correlation between attendance and course performance, with researchers consistently reporting a negative relationship between students’ number of classroom absences and their grade point average.
But the literature is not easily summarized, with a variety of inconsistencies and ambiguities, such as the prediction of exam scores or final grades in specific courses, predicting overall GPA, and whether attendance points count in the final grade. Some researchers have also focused on controlling absences through various contingencies.
However, a few studies since the 1980s have examined academic aptitude, past academic performance, and attendance at the same time, controlling for “third variables” like verbal ability, academic goals, and motives. These studies have consistently found that attendance is a significant predictor of academic success, even when controlling for other variables.
Recent research has further documented the importance of attendance, along with academic aptitude, for predicting academic success.
In particular, studies have found that SAT scores and a number of absences are good predictors of GPA, with attendance having a slight advantage in predicting final grades. Verbal intelligence, seminar absences, and personality traits such as conscientiousness and openness have also been found to be important predictors of academic success.
These findings have important implications for students. While academic aptitude, personality, and past achievement are not variables that students can control, class attendance and the quantity of study or work are largely influenced by students’ time allocation choices. By simply attending and paying attention, students can maximize their chances of academic success and improve their prospects beyond college.
So, students who are interested in performing well in college still should prioritize attending lectures, even if they seem useless. After all, these are dedicated hours you definitely will spend studying, and not getting distracted at home.