Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Disappearing Students

It happens almost every semester; at some point, a student stops coming to class. Sometimes it happens after a conversation where s/he realizes that there's no way to pass the class, so s/he decides to cut losses and focus on the classes s/he can pass. Sometimes it just happens.

When it just happens, I email the student expressing my concern.

It's always the students at the low end of the class grades who disappear.

The students in the middle email to say that something happened and they're going to miss a couple days. The students at the high end email to say that something happened, and they're going to miss a couple days, but they've attached the assignment due later in the week and hope that I'll be able to accept it. (Usually works out fine.) Sometimes I get notice through an administrative office.

It bothers me, though. Maybe it's my having grown up in a household where I was supposed to leave a note or call if I were going to be late or something? Maybe it's a remnant of maternal instinct?

Dear Students, Please email if you're going to just stop coming to class!


  1. This bothers me more than it should -- I worry that there is some easily resolveable problem that could keep a low-performing student in class.

    I also think about the time when my little sister stopped coming to class after Thanksgiving -- because she figured out her old boyfriend was stalking her and that he knew her whole class schedule, thus she wasn' safe. Of course, had she shared this info with me -- I'd have gone to her instructors with the police report and arranged for her to finish her coursework from home, or to be dropped (vs. withdrawn).... but I didn't find out until after she died and failed a whole semester of classes she loved.

    I'd have also arranged all of her and my "big" friends to take care of the stalker-boy... which is probably why she didn't tell us...

  2. I would worry a lot more if it were a different student, I think. I'm sorry to hear about your sister.