Reasons to Go to Class

What you don't think about now might hurt you later

Male professor addressing group of college students in classroom
Andersen Ross/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Some days it can be flat-out impossible to find the motivation to go to class. It's a lot easier to come up with reasons not to: You haven't had enough sleep, you just need a break, you have other things to do, there's something more exciting going on, the professor is bad, the professor won't notice, you won't miss anything, or you just don't want to go. Even if all of these excuses are true, it's important to take a step back and gain some perspective about why going to class in college really does matter.

Motivate yourself to attend every lecture by exploring reasons to attend class.

Using Money Wisely

Suppose your tuition costs $5,700 this semester—the average for in-state public institutions nationally. If you're taking four courses, that's $1,425 per course. And if you're in class 14 weeks each semester, that's more than $100 a week per class. Lastly, if your course meets twice a week, you're paying more than $50 for each class. You're paying that $50 whether or not you go, so you might as well get something out of it. (And if you're going to an out-of-state public school or a private school, you're probably paying far more than $50 per class.)

Avoiding Regret

Going to class is like going to the gym: You'll feel guilty if you don't go but awesome if you do. Some days, it's nearly impossible to make yourself hit the gym. But on the days when you do go, you're always glad you did. Going to class often works the same way. You might lack the motivation at first, but it nearly always pays off later. Make yourself feel proud all day for going to class instead of guilty for skipping it.

Learning Something Life-Changing

Your professor might mention an organization that sounds interesting. Later, you'll look it up, decide you want to volunteer for it, and ultimately land a job after graduation. You never know when inspiration will strike in college. Set yourself up for it by going to class and keeping an open mind about what kinds of things you can learn about and fall in love with.

Enjoying the Experience

College is certainly not enjoyable all of the time. But you went to college because you wanted to, and there are many students who don't have the opportunity to do what you're doing. Remember it's a privilege to be working toward a college degree, and not going to class is a waste of your good fortune.

Learning What You Need to Know

You never know when your professor is going to drop that critical sentence in the middle of the lecture, such as, "This will be on the exam." And if you're home in bed instead of in a seat in class, you'll never know how important today's lesson really was.

Conversely, your professor may say something along the lines of, "This is important for you to read and understand, but it won't be part of the upcoming midterm." That'll come in handy later when you're deciding where to focus your efforts when studying.

Maybe you're only taking the course to meet a graduation requirement, but you just might learn something interesting in class that day.

Socializing With Peers

Even if you're still wearing your pajama pants and barely make it to class on time, you'll likely still have a minute or two to catch up with some friends. And even if you just commiserate about how you're still recovering from the weekend, the camaraderie can be nice.

Reducing Study Time

Even if your professor just goes over the reading, such a review will help solidify critical points in your mind. This means the hour you spent in class reviewing material is one less hour you have to spend studying later.

Asking Questions

 College is different than high school in many ways, including the fact that the material is more difficult. Consequently, asking questions is an important part of your education. And it's much easier to ask questions of your professor or teaching assistant when you're in class than when you're home trying to catch up on what you missed.

Talking With Your Professor or TA

While it may not seem important now, it's helpful for your professor to know you—and vice versa. Even if she doesn't interact with you often, you never know how your class attendance might benefit you later. For example, if you need help with a paper or are close to failing the class, having the professor know your face when you go talk to her can help you make your case.

It's important for you to make yourself familiar to your TA, too. TAs can be great resources—they're often more accessible than a professor, and if you have a good relationship with them, they could be your advocate with the professor. 

Getting Exercise

If you don't think your brain can get anything out of going to class, maybe your body can. If you're walking, biking, or using some other kind of body-powered transportation to get around campus, you'll at least get some exercise from going to class today.

Talking to That Certain Someone

The purpose of any class is academic pursuit, and learning should be the priority. But it doesn't hurt if you happen to be taking a class with a person you want to get to know better. Even if you both are commiserating about what else you'd rather be doing, neither of you would be talking with each other if you didn't show up for class today.

Being Prepared for Upcoming Work

It's hard to be prepared for upcoming assignments if you don't go to class on a regular basis. You might be able to wing it, but the amount of time you spend trying to undo the damage you've done by skipping class is likely much more than the amount of time you would have spent just going to class in the first place.

Enjoying Yourself

You went to college to expand your mind, get exposure to new information, learn how to think critically and live an examined life. And once you have graduated, you may never again get to spend so much time doing those things. So even on the days when you find it difficult to come up with a reason to go to class, persuade yourself to go by reminding yourself how much you enjoy learning.

Earning a Degree

It can be difficult to graduate if you have a low GPA, and this is more likely to happen if you're not going to class. Investing in a college education is only worthwhile if you actually earn a degree. If you have student loans, they're going to be a lot harder to pay back if you're not benefitting from the higher earning potential that comes with a college degree.