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How Much Are You Spending on College Classes You Don’t Attend?

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Are you wondering how much that skipped college class can cost you? Let’s take a deeper look into the financial impact of a missed class.

What’s the Direct Tuition Loss of a Missed Class?

Each semester, the tuition fee is set with the goal of providing you with both - class time as well as complete subject education. The amount you pay in tuition can, therefore, help determine how much a missed class costs you. What are the average tuition rates? The College Board reports that for the 2018-2019 school year, the average cost of tuition and fees for a student attending a four-year in-state public school is $10,230. At a private four-year school, the average rate is much higher at $35,830. How much time is spent in the classroom? Typically, a three-credit college course means three hours of class time per week. Assuming a 15-credit course load, a 15-week semester would have about 225 hours of class time. What’s the cost of one missed class? A 1.5-hour class out of the semester’s 225 classroom hours would cost about 0.7% of your semester’s tuition. That means that the average cost of a missed class is $35.81 at a public four-year school and $125.41 at a private four-year school.

Why Are Students Missing Classes?

Reasons for missing class vary by school, by subject, and by student. At MIT, the top factor influencing class attendance is the lecture quality and clarity, followed by deadlines for other academic work. The size of the school also affects attendance with average absentee rates at 25 percent for small schools, 34 percent for medium-sized schools, and 40 percent for larger schools. Another study found that students’ main reasons for missing classes include oversleeping, illness, or working on coursework for a different class. Missing a class may be the result of a student’s complicated decision matrix. One NYU student discovered that her 14 missed lecture classes calculated to $718 in lost tuition dollars. Her reaction, however, was not remorse over the lost educational cost. “I don’t think it’s really a waste if I’m using my time efficiently,” Nina Luksana told Forbes.

What’s the Average Cost of Missed Classes per Semester?

A much-debated attendance analysis by Harvard faculty found that the average lecture attendance was 60 percent. Interestingly, attendance declined throughout the semester, from 79 percent at the beginning to 43 percent by the end of the semester. Using this assumption that college students are attending an average of six classes out of 10, a student at a public four-year school would pay $2,046 per semester for classes he or she didn’t attend. That’s $16,368 in lost tuition for a four-year degree. For students at private schools, the tuition lost each semester from missed classes is $7,166. Over the eight semesters of a four-year degree, that would be $57,328 in tuition spent on unattended classes.

Does Missing Class Affect Grades?

Many researchers have found that high class attendance is closely linked to high academic performance. Based on a meta-analysis of college attendance, students with a 60 percent rate of class attendance averaged a C-, which is a 1.7 GPA. One missed 1½-hour class is 10 percent of a weekly 15-hour course load. Extrapolating that 10 percent to the entire semester reveals that a 70 percent attendance rate yields an average GPA of 2.0. Therefore, a missed class each week could lower your semester’s GPA by 0.3.

What Can You Do if You’ve Missed a Class?

A missed class doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to miss the content of the lecture. The note-sharing platform OneClass can help you find out what happened in the lecture you missed. By using online class notes shared by your classmates, you can catch up on coursework of a missed class or get more clarity on a lecture that you struggled to understand. Full access to all class notes and study guides is available for Unlimited Access subscribers starting at the low rate of $9.98 per month. Users can also access shared materials using site currency, which they can earn by uploading notes. Find out how 90% of OneClass users have used online class notes to improve by at least one letter grade. image attribution: Andrey Popov -


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