On the first day of class, Rob Jenkins makes sure students get the message: You’re adults. Act like adults. An English instructor at Georgia Perimeter College, Jenkins prints his first-day welcome in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Students don’t have to raise hand to speak or ask permission to use the restroom. They won’t be penalized for coming late or missing class, “beyond the natural penalties that accrue as a result of your missing class time and activities.”
You should also know that, according to several recent studies, students who attend class regularly earn, on average, one full letter grade higher than students who attend only sporadically. If you don’t know what “sporadically” means, you should definitely come to class.
“Along with considerable freedom, being an adult also carries a great deal of responsibility,” Jenkins reminds students.
You’re responsible, first of all, for displaying good manners, being considerate of others, and generally not being a jerk. That means you won’t interrupt other speakers, including me. You won’t routinely be late to class, or regularly leave before it’s over, because that’s rude. And you’ll keep your cellphone turned off, unless you have some really good reason to leave it on, such as your mother is in the hospital, your partner is about to give birth, or the Braves are playing in the World Series.
Moreover, you are personally responsible for everything we cover in class, whether you’re here or not. I don’t mean that unkindly, but please don’t come up to me and ask, “Are we going to be doing anything important on Wednesday?” Of course we’re going to do something important on Wednesday. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be there either.
And please don’t ask “Is it OK if I’m absent on Friday?” or “Is it OK if I leave early?” As far as I’m concerned, it’s neither OK nor not OK. I prefer you to be in class all the time, for the simple reason that I want you to succeed in the course. But it’s entirely your decision. You’re an adult. Do what you have to do. You don’t need my permission, nor will I give it. Just remember that you’re responsible for all the material.
Jenkins warns students that he doesn’t give many A’s because not many students excel. But plenty are good enough to earn a B, if they show up and do the work.