Come to Class!

The Herd Path Program is a retention initiative based on the idea that missed classes are an early indicator of freshmen who either have academic problems or will have them soon. Data from other institutions show that class attendance is a more reliable predictor of student success than high school GPA, ACT scores, and class standing.

For many freshmen, the biggest challenges of the first year of college are not academic; the biggest challenges are developing good work habits and practicing personal responsibility. Because of that, if a student starts missing classes in the early weeks of the semester, a Herd Path Partner contacts him or her to make sure that everything is okay and offer help. Herd Path Partners are positive, caring, enthusiastic upperclassmen; they contact freshmen with excessive absences to emphasize that regular class attendance is essential for academic success and that students should talk to their instructors if they are having difficulty with the material.

We’re NOT the “attendance police” and that this initiative is NOT about making students feel bad about missing class – quite the opposite: this initiative shows students that even in a university as big as Marshall, each individual matters. It’s also not about hand-holding or micro-managing students; instead, it’s giving students a chance to course-correct before it’s too late simply by alerting them to something they may not have considered.

Having said that, please know that at Marshall we’ve seen some heartbreaking reasons for students to miss class, and we want to help in those cases. If you are missing classes because of illness, family distress or financial difficulties, please contact Kateryna Schray at

If you are considering missing class because you are tired, need a day off, don’t think class is important, please, PLEASE read through the list below. And if any of our arguments change your mind — or if you have a new one to add to our list — please let us know at


Going to class really does matter! While it is true that you can acquire knowledge from reading and other forms of self-study, we are, for the most part, social creatures, and learning is a social activity – you need your classmates and they need you. That’s because knowledge is not wisdom: wisdom comes with experience, and a good place to begin getting that experience is the classroom, virtual or concrete, where you have a chance to bounce your knowledge off of the knowledge of your professor and classmates and see what happens.

Coming to class in college really does matter. It’s not unusual to hear freshmen say that one of the differences between high school and college is that you don’t have to go to class. While that is technically true, it is also true that you don’t have to go to school at all. You’ve chosen to go to college, you’ve chosen to invest in yourself and in a promising future. Choosing not to go to class undercuts that investment in more ways than just financial. The consequences of missing class in college are not as visible as the consequences of missing class in high school but they are there.

Before you choose to skip class, take a minute to consider the following ten ideas, ranging from the purely practical to the appropriately profound.

  1. You want to be money-smart. 
    • Full-time in-state tuition at Marshall for one semester is $3,577. A semester lasts 15 weeks. You give up $15 every time you skip a class. That may not seem like much (really?) but miss 10 classes over the course of a semester and that’s $150.
    • We want you to get your degree within four years and graduate with minimum debt so that you can embark on a happy, meaning and fulfilling career: you want that too! If that’s our goal, every dollar counts.
  2. You want to be efficient.
    • You will do much better on your assignments and tests if you attend class. In fact, it will usually take you longer to truly catch up on what you missed than if you had come to class in the first place. You never know when your professor will make a casual reference to something that will be on the exam and you don’t want to depend on a friend to pick that up in his or her notes. Beyond that, no class time is ever actually wasted.
    • Even if a professor goes over a familiar reading or you spend time in group-work that appears not immediately useful, these activities will save you time studying and working on assignments later on. That’s because your mind is spending more time engaged in the subject matter and absorbing all sorts of information, skills and experiences that allow for deeper learning to happen, learning that will be reflected in your tests and written work.
    • Keep in mind that investing in a college education is only worth it if you actually graduate and get a degree. The situation you don’t want to be in is “some college, no degree, debt.” If you have student loans, repaying them is much harder without the higher earning potential that comes with a college degree. And really, truly, coming to class is the best way to ensure the academic success necessary for graduation.
  3. You want to be in good physical shape.
    • Physically going to class – getting out of your dorm room, apartment or home – is as good for your body as it is for your mind. Walking across campus and getting fresh air is healthy; biking to class is healthy. We spend so much time in sedentary positions that changing our locations and postures is an important side benefit of class attendance.
  4. You want to feel good about yourself. (We want that too!) 
    • According to a 2011 Harvard study, 6.7% of the planet’s population gets to go to college – that makes you part of a very elite demographic. If you are at all serious about your education (and we know that you are), you will feel some level of guilt for skipping classes. We don’t want that and neither do you.
  5. You want to make friends.
    • Most professors love walking into a room full of healthy chatter before class begins. Your classmates are your automatic instant peer group – they are encountering the same material under the same circumstances and can completely relate to the joys and woes of that particular course. They can probably relate to a lot of other things about being a freshman at Marshall. Chances are that you will find a life-long friend or two while at college, and those moments right before, after and in-between classes provide opportunities for those friendships to begin.
    • Personal connections also go a long way in building your confidence and general well-being, qualities important throughout our lives but especially in transitional moments like your first college year. Looking ahead to graduation (which will be here sooner than you think!), the friendships you make in college can also become the business and career connections that launch you on your way, or let you launch someone on his/her way.
  6. You want to be successful.
    • Keep the ultimate goal in mind: graduation. It’s easy to lose sight of the connection between going to a single class and graduating but that connection is real.
    • If you are wondering if a college degree is worth it financially, the answer is that “it’s not even close.” According to the New York Times, “a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable… Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree.”
  7. You can ask questions.
    • Most professors encourage and appreciate questions. It’s a chance for you to clarify or increase your understanding of the material or maybe even take the discussion to the next level. Either way, your connecting with the material is at the heart of every successful class. You want that, and we want that too.
  8. You can get to know your professor.
    • Believe it or not, your professor just might be a very interesting person. He or she can relate to being a college student, and he or she can probably remember that awesome feeling of having your whole future ahead of you and that feeling of having to make the best choices. Your professor is a great resource but that resource becomes available to you only once you establish a relationship in class.
    • In purely practical terms, if you are struggling in a course, a professor who recognizes you from class and knows that you have been attending will want to help you.
  9. You will learn what you need to learn.
    • After all, that’s why you are in the class to begin with, and that is as true for your gen ed classes as for the classes in your major. Human beings LOVE learning – it is exciting and natural.
  10. You will find your vocation.
    • You never know what you will hear in class from your professor or a classmate. Every day is exciting because you can hear something amazing – a mention of an organization that you might want to work for, a reference to a publication that is the perfect venue for your ideas, an insight that will lead you to make great discoveries, and so on. That’s a large part why you are here: even if you came to Marshall with a solid plan, there is always some part of your future that is yet to be determined.
    • Your college years are all about finding your way in public life and examining the communal potential of your hopes and dreams. Every class you attend is a chance to find out more about yourself, what you are capable of, and what makes you happy.

For more reasons to Come to Class, view the slideshow located on the sidebar of this page. Welcome to Marshall — we’re glad you here!