It has recently been brought to my attention that cutting class is supposed to be liberating: you don't have to wake up early, you don't have to listen to some old guy talking about something boring, and you certainly don't have to walk half a mile to campus in 14-degree weather.

That being said, there has being consensus among my friends from both the University of Chicago and peer institutions (Ivy-Plus, Wellesley, Oberlin, Bryn Mawr, etc—nerd schools) that cutting class is bad.

No, not because you get in trouble like you would in high school. We don't have detention, and professors rarely take attendance. Some threaten to fail you if skip more than three classes, but last quarter I skipped five of a 40-person class where attendance was taken and I still got a B+ (I did kick ass on the midterm and final). I was doing work for my 3:30 Power, Identity, and Resistance core class in that extra time anyway.

So why is cutting class bad, you ask?


Let's take this class that I skipped five of the thirty times that it met (that means I attended roughly 83% of the classes, for you statisticians). Every time I decided to stay in the library, in conversation, or in my room, I became wracked with this feeling that I was missing something that I really shouldn't be. To make matters worse, my guilt took several different manifestations:

Guilt Type #1: Academic Hunger Pangs
Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. I felt guilty because I felt like I was missing out on learning something enlightening from a tenured professor who knew more about Shakespeare than anyone else on the planet. Granted, this particular class was too big and you couldn't here him unless you arrived 15 minutes early—which I couldn't do because I had a class immediately before it. This meant that by the time I showed up, the discussion table was full and I had to sit in one of the seats around the periphery of the room. This also meant that he wouldn't see if I raised my hand to discuss something. So despite the fact that I spent the majority of the classes appearing to take notes on my computer but actually writing on people's facebook walls, whenever I cut class I felt a little more ignorant as a result.

Guilt Type #2: Grades
So you missed class. Intentionally, you naughty, naughty child. Your professor is going to mark you absent, and she's going to resent your presence for the rest of the discussions that you actually attend. Your A- papers will get B+s, and she'll call on your class's That Guy instead of you. Or wait, maybe this is a lecture class. Oh no, whatever shall you do! You skipped the lecture on Plate Tectonics! This is going to be on the final exam, and now you're going to fail! Fuck! Even though all your frat brothers are in the class and all the professor's lecture notes are posted online, you will still fail because you were too hungover from last night's beer pong tournament to show up. Never mind the fact that the only interesting part of the lectures is that the professor is bitter about not being awarded the Nobel Prize, and that the soccer chick who always sits in front of you wears lace thongs that are visible above the waist of her team warm-up pants. You didn't show up, you stupid little shit. Your GPA is going straight down the gutter and you will never get the job at Goldman Sachs because you skipped one class.

Guilt Type #3: Tuition/Mommy and Daddy
Whether you have any kind of aid or your parents are paying full tuition, this guilt rule applies. You are wasting money, and your parents will probably be mad. You are paying $40,000 not to go to class? This is the reason my roommate and I inevitably cave. Even if we are able to stave off the first two feelings of guilt, this last one always manage to creep up on us, and we show up to class. This one time, I even showed up twenty minutes late to a 50-minute class because I was "cutting" for the first ten, felt badly, and then ran the half mile to campus to go. Why? Because my parents aren't paying for me to sit in my room and play Snood. They are paying for me to go get an education (even if I am "throwing it away: because I have a useless major, i.e. not Econ), so I can stop leeching off them and get a life.

If you can cut class guilt-free, lucky you. In the mean time, the rest of us will pick classes that sound interesting, and when one or two of them turn out to suck, we won't be able to bring ourselves to skip. Instead, we'll sit in a back corner of the room appearing to take notes, but actually uploading pictures of drunk people to facebook.