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One Way To Motivate Students to Go to Class

OK—this topic is worth discussion and debate. After reading an article about a new app for parents, teachers, and college students, I felt mixed emotions.

Do you remember your college days? How many classes did you skip? If you’re like most university students, it’s more than you can remember. When I think on my years in college, I recall attending classes most of the time. I went enough to make sure I understood the subject and was ready for the exam. But I definitely wasn’t perfect, and neither were my peers — many of them failed to attend class more often than not.

This trend may change, however, thanks to a new app called “Class 120”. Designed by startup company Core Principle, Class 120 gives parents, athletic departments, and college administrators the ability to track their students’ class attendance. It’s like insurance for the parent who’s spent tens of thousands of dollars each semester to pay for their kid’s tuition. They can now make sure they actually get their money’s worth.


photo credit: Razordab13 via photopin cc

Wow. It’s a new day.

According to a summary report from USA Today, Jeff Whorley, Core Principle’s founder and chief executive officer, said, “college students spend more than $31 billion a year in classes they don’t attend. On average, students report that they don’t attend about 20% of classes throughout their collegiate career.”

“‘We know 40 to 45% of students that start at four-year colleges don’t graduate in six years,’ [Jeff] said, adding that students who regularly attend class receive better grades.”

The article goes on to explain that the app doesn’t communicate where a student is at all times — it simply lets the respective adult know (in real time) if a student has failed to check in to his or her class.

My Mixed Emotions

I am both an educator and a parent. My two kids have attended college, so I can see the merit in this new app. It likely leads to a better ROI when it comes to our children’s education. At the same time, I believe that by the time my kids reached college age, they should be able to self-regulate and manage themselves. Part of healthy, emotional intelligence is self-awareness and self-management. You must figure out what you need to do — even when you don’t feel like it — in order to succeed.

I don’t want to be a “helicopter parent” with kids who need me to monitor them, remind them of every little task on their to-do list, and watch out for them as if they’re still in elementary school. My main concerns about this app are these: does it merely enable helicopter parents to hover over their kids, instead of learning to discuss with them how to handle class time? Does it communicate a lack of trust? Does it further delay kids’ abilities to self-regulate, and will they need an app when they start their careers? Or—does it really offer a service they need today: a little accountability to do what they agreed to do, even when the weekend party went late and they’re tired on Monday morning?

Two Realities I know for Sure

  • Millions of parents need to hover less and train more.
  • Millions of students need to learn to self-regulate.

One caveat. Although the app provides an incentive to get students to class, it still requires their consent. So I am wondering—if a parent consents to pay tuition, shouldn’t a student consent to use the app? Or, does this just mask the real problem: hovering parents and underdeveloped college students?

I want to hear from you. What do you think about the pros and cons of such an app? You can comment below.


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  1. Leslie Atkins on March 17, 2015 at 8:12 am

    I think this can be a useful app for students who have not learned to self regulate. I would hope that parents using it would start to back off from it as the student matures. I would not use it because my daughter in college does self regulate and I trust her to make the decision about class attendance. I check my son HS attendance only if his grades drop. Self regulation is important to learn and as parents we can support our students learning by letting them make their own decisions and then letting them deal with the consequences of their decisions.

  2. hssportsstuff on March 17, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I understand the interest behind the app, but this just prolongs the dependent nature of kids. It’s ok to let them fail a bit – especially as a college freshmen when there’s still lots of time to recover and improve. I’d rather see parents set a deadline for when their financial support of college will end and tell their kids to meet expectations by that deadline or figure out their own funding. Otherwise, the next app that will need developing is one where the kids have to check in at work each morning so mom/dad know they are making it to their jobs. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

  3. Ken Shepherd on March 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I think the app just delays the maturing process Tim. I would rather see the parents give them “The Car” as early as possible. The Car= Challenge them, hold them Accountable, and give them Responsibility!!

  4. Joe on March 17, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Kid earns certain GPA, no app needed. GPA drops below certain agreed upon number, app required or parents stop paying for college!

  5. Brian on March 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Hopefully this is clear enough – I do not like it. What’s next? An app to let me know what time my college kid goes to bed each night!

  6. DP on March 17, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Symptom-management and nothing else. Covey used to talk about striking at the root of the problem. This is just hacking at the leaves. Thanks Tim, for your contributions.

  7. Lee belew on March 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    For most students it wouldn’t be needed because it’s normal for the average student to miss some classes and there is a time for natural consequences; however I have a student with ADD and a social anxiety disorder and this would help to track if she is able to handle her schedule.

  8. Kathy K Taylor on March 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    It sounds like one more way to delay maturity.

  9. Ken Andiorio on January 13, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I think this is a process vs. results issue. If a college student can achieve the results, a diploma will result. The bigger issue may be that for some students results are not difficult thus not using a process (regular class attendance) doesn’t prepare them for a “next-level” opportunity. The discussion with college students should be about process that can be applied to other situations such as a career. Will the app ensure adherence to process? Maybe maybe not but the topic will have been discussed allowing further discernment in the student thinking process.

  10. ST on March 27, 2019 at 11:01 am

    I have a son who struggles with self regulating. I don’t think he will ever “mature” out of it, I can’t say for sure since he is only 10 but I think it is part of his nature. He has younger siblings who can regulate better. For someone who needs it and chooses to use it I think that is great, but I have to agree with the previous comments. Kids should be cut off, it’s ok to let them make mistakes. I know I skipped a few classes in college, but I also paid for a huge portion of it myself. I still did well and I still graduated on time. I would rather see this in the high schools, especially with ones who are constantly skipping to help teach them self regulation (before they drop out of high school or get into trouble with the law due to truancy issues, before they begin working and get laid off for calling out too often, and before they go to college and waste their money).

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One Way To Motivate Students to Go to Class