Showing up

Did you ever see the movie “Hardball,” the inspirational tale of Keanu Reeves teaching love and teamwork to a group of poor inner-city kids? Neither did I, but I caught about 10 seconds of it one day while I was channel-surfing. I caught the part where Keanu, tears in his eyes, tells his ragtag group that “One of the most important things in life is showing up, and I’m blown away by your ability to show up.”

I wanted to cry, too, because that’s some really dumb advice. It may fly for little children, but in reality, you’ll never get a gold star just for showing up. You actually have to do stuff and do it well after you show up in order to be considered a valuable employee. But that’s not necessarily true when in college.

More and more professors are making attendance a part of students’ grades. Some do it for egotistical reasons — their feelings are hurt when students decide it’d be more interesting to sleep than to listen to them lecture, so they require attendance. In other cases, parents pressure universities to require attendance, to ensure their hard-earned money isn’t paying for classes that their sons and daughters are skipping in favor of watching an all-day Simon & Simon marathon on TNT (not that I’d know anything about that). Regardless of the reasons, the outcome is this: you can now get a good chunk of an A just by dragging your tired bones into class in pajama pants and big fuzzy slippers.

And let’s not forget that the majority of college classes don’t even count attendance at all, especially at larger schools. You can make a total of two appearances all semester – one for the midterm and one for the final – and as long as you can perform well on those two days – that’s two days out of 110+ days in a semester – you can get an A. Obviously, this does not reflect how things really work at a job. You actually have to show up every day and on time, and when you get there, you have to work for about 9 hours straight, with an hour in between for lunch.

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