Gregory V. Bard

Associate Professor of Mathematics
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The Cost of Skipping Class

Warning: This information is extremely specific to Fordham University, where I was a member of the faculty for four years (August 2007--May 2011). The information on this page is therefore out of date. For example, it refers to the tuition costs of the 2009--2010 school year. However, it can be used as a template for those wishing to conduct their own, similar, calculation specific to their own university.
Faculty often work quite hard to make clear, interesting, precise and thoughtful lectures. Therefore, it is frustrating when students fail to come to class. Naturally, sometimes this is unavoidable, such as due to an illness. But I've also had students tell me that they are skipping my class to go to a concert, or to leave early for break, and so on. This is unwise for many reasons. There is the danger of missing an important concept or the effect of a disruption in the sequence of concepts as they are presented. A tertiary, but by no means negligible, reason not to skip classes is the financial cost of each class.
  • From this page, we learn that a year of tuition at Fordham University (for a full-time undergraduate at any of the three colleges) is $ 35,825, at least for the 2009-2010 academic year.
  • That implies $ 17,912.50 per semester.
  • Most Fordham students discharge their mathematics requirement in their freshman year, and most students take five courses per semester when they are freshmen.
  • Each course is then worth $ 3582.50.
  • The math courses taught at Fordham come in two flavors:
    • The three-credit course:
      • These meet 27 times per semester, plus once during finals week.
      • Usually two lectures are given up for midterm examinations, and the final exam is given during finals week.
      • So there are 25 proper instructional meetings of the class.
      • Thus, each class meeting is worth $ 143.30.
    • The four-credit course:
      • These are a bit more complicated!
      • Each week will see a 50-minute recitation, and 2 lectures of 75 minutes.
      • That comes to 200 minutes of instruction per week.
      • There are 16 weeks per semester, but 1.5 weeks are given up to the "reading days" and to finals, plus usually 1 week worth of breaks, so there are 13.5 weeks of classes.
      • This comes to 2700 minutes of class time.
      • We deduct 150 minutes for two midterm examinations, usually given during the 75 minute lectures.
      • Therefore there is 2550 minutes of instruction time.
      • Each minute is worth $ 1.405.
      • Thus missing the 50-minute recitation is worth $ 70.25.
      • And missing the 75-minute lecture is worth $ 105.38.
      • And the cost of missing the whole week is $ 281.01, which compares with $ 286.60 in the previous case.
  • Thus, it is clear that missing class is a terrible waste of money.

Last updated Fall of 2009, except the annotation about being out of date, added on March 20, 2013.