The Cost of Skipping Class

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By Prasanna Tati

Every day, tens of thousands of college students skip class without a second thought as they smack the snooze button once again, decide to study for a more important class, accompany friends on a trip to the city, or just get a head start on the journey home. Though it may seem as if an hour and a half of a single lecture isn’t too important, in the grand scheme of a semester, the cost adds up.

In fact, skipping a single lecture of a 3 credit class at NJIT for in-state students costs $66.80 as per this year’s tuition. For an out-of-state student, this cost can jump to $133.90 for just an hour and a half of class time. The average college student reportedly skips about one class a month. This leads to a loss of $267.20 for in-state students and $535.60 for out-of-state students over the course of a semester. The National Association of College Stores says that the average college student will spend $327.50 on textbooks per semester, so four out-of-state students, skipping one class a month results in a loss that exceeds the cost of a semester of textbooks.

What is even more surprising is the fact that at the end of a four-year undergraduate career at NJIT, after consistently skipping class once a month every semester, you will have accumulated a loss of $2303.33 as an in-state student and $4617.01 as an out-of-state student (this includes the 10 year historical rise of college tuition by 5% per year).

Just to put the numbers out there, skipping any class once a week or skipping a total of 15 classes per semester would cost students $1002 for in-state and $2008.50 for out-of-state, and over the course of a 4-year undergraduate career at NJIT, $8637.49 in-state and $17,313.77 out-of-state.

Though it may not feel like it when the decision is made, skipping class is a big deal. To rationalize or even justify skipping class for non-emergencies, students would have to be doing something worth just as much or more than the cost of skipping class. So would you pay over $1000 every semester to sleep in on Friday mornings and truthfully say that it’s worth it? Multiple students have mentioned that they feel as if they are wasting time in class, because “the professors here sound as if they’re here more for their own research than to teach us”. Oftentimes, in the Tiernan Lecture Halls you will find the majority of students watching Netflix in class, holding multiple IClickers, and even napping. Though there’s no easy way to quantify and correlate professor performance with the cost of tuition, multiple students across campus and in different majors agree that, “it just isn’t worth it.” Why are professors so dissatisfying with providing a proper education that students would rather lose $66.80 and even $133.90 per class and  teach themselves later?

Now, there are certain emergencies that arise that may warrant the occasional absence (e.g. President Obama is in town), but students should ask themselves if their reason for skipping really is worth the loss. To many students at NJIT, the answer would be to skip regardless of the reason, because a good portion of their tuition is covered by scholarship. However, the donors who generously give their hard-earned money to the university do so, because they trust that their money will be spent on expensive class time rather than nap time. As per the code of ethics and integrity, even scholarships should not make it any easier for students to skip class.

Speaking of expensive class time, why does a one and a half hour lecture cost $66.80 for in-state students? Assuming all the students in a 200 student lecture are in-state, that’s a total of $13,360 per class and $400,800 per semester! General Chemistry II (CHEM126) offered 15 sections of class this semester, which means that a single semester of CHEM126 generates funds of over $6 million! Now think of all the different classes and sections (not to mention residence, food, and various other services) offered at NJIT that generate similar totals per semester. Where does all of this money go? The new wellness center? The renovation of CKB? Research? As per calculations, these all seem like good side projects. But what is the real operation?

Hopefully, we will find out soon. Until then, try not to skip class. It’s not cheap enough to be worth it.

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