I stand outside the door to my classroom. Everyone else is inside. I’m not. I open the door anyway.
The professor stops midsentence and turns from the class to gaze at me. My fellow students stare, silently judging me. The professor smiles, venom under their lips.
“You’re 15 minutes late.” I take the walk of shame to my usual seat. Someone else is in it.
I’m withering under the pressure just imagining it.
Once I’m settled into my seat, I have to ask, so what? I’m in class now. I’m getting the education I paid for, and very soon, my classmates won’t even care that I was late.
Chico State students with more than six units pay $3,501 a semester for tuition. The whole idea behind college is that a student pays to get taught important things by experienced professionals. If a student is willing to leverage thousands of dollars and months of their time for this, the embarrassment of being late to class should weigh nothing in comparison.
It’s very easy to justify not going to class by considering how awkward it’ll be, or how it’s okay because, hey, I still have unexcused absences left for that class.
The problem with doing this is twofold: these justifications make it easier to convince oneself not to show up to class and they fool the student into wasting valuable resources.
For every one of the classes I’ve ever taken, absences were universally worse for my grade than late arrivals. After a certain point, the absences began to effect my grade. In some classes, I lost participation points, and in others, I lost whole letters from my final grade.
Considering the time and money investment put into going to Chico State, I literally cannot afford to be absent.
It’s hard to be the person who slides into class late. I get it. I’ve been that person more than my fair share. But it’s worse standing outside that classroom door, mentally battling with myself and losing the fight. Even worse is walking back to my apartment to surrender all I could have learned that day.
Believe me, that walk is far more shameful.
Enrique Raymundo can be reached at [email protected] or @ERaymundoCV on Twitter.