To go to my seminar, or not to go to my seminar, that is the question?


BEEP beep beep – That is your alarm clock, and this is what it tells you: you have exactly ten minutes before your first seminar, and no, this time you really can’t hit the snooze button – again. Seminars, to attend or not to attend, that is the question? While strictly speaking, seminars are compulsory, this age old question faces many a groggy university student on an early morning basis. Unfortunately, even after one cup (or two, or three, or four) of the strongest coffee in the cupboard, some mornings prove too much for the best of us. Feeling a strange mixture of defeat and liberation, we crawl back under our covers and say screw it to our seminars, defying personal, parental and tutor expectations.

Personally, I haven’t missed one seminar yet – but I’ve only been here for three weeks. As for my future, it doesn’t look so promising. On quite a few mornings already the get-bac k-in-bed-bugs have been on my case, dangling temptations of beauty sleep before my droopy eyelids. I will admit that in these first three weeks I have missed two lectures. However, unlike seminars, no one is taking attendance and all the PowerPoints go up on LUVLE anyway.

Still, we skippers and almost-skippers don’t have much of an excuse. A case of laziness is what it really boils down to. Unless you’re sick – in which case I completely understand – and of course, family crises are one hundred percent valid. But if your seminar attendance record is already at zero out of three, it’s either time to break out those sleeping pills, buy a second coffee pot, find a comfier mattress, or something.

There is a reason why tutors include seminars in their courses and I believe you and I should make every effort to attend them. Not only will sitting in on seminars gain you bonus points with your tutor, but unlike lectures, you will get to improve your public speaking skills, partake of and contribute to meaningful discussions, and most importantly learn from your classmates. Furthermore, it’s quite likely in your independent reading and studying you won’t pick up on everything tutors point out in seminars – things that could very well help you get higher marks on your exams and papers. Still, it’s not just about learning from your classmates and tutors. Don’t forget your parents, whose money goes towards your seminars too.

Now I should mention that I am an American student and as such, I am biased about skipping class. Back at my home college (note: ‘college’ not ‘uni’) rarely do I miss a class. While inevitably, there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of my classmates join me. After all, we are literally paying for every minute we get with our tutors.

According to, tuition at a public, four-year college in the U.S. will cost you roughly $9,000 per year. Fork up about $35,000 per year and you can graduate from a private, four-year college. In fact, many private colleges are even more expensive than this average. In Brian Wingfield’s article, America’s Most Expensive Colleges on, 2010’s most expensive American college was Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. Thank God for financial aid applications because their yearly tuition is $57,556.
With the British House of Commons’ recent and unfortunate decision to raise your 2012 tuition fees cap from £3,290 per year to £9,000 per year, I am certainly sympathetic. After all, who wants the cost of their education nearly tripled? However, I do see one positive aspect to this fee raise. As you pay more for each class you take, you will be that much more motivated to attend your seminars.

As for now, no, your tutors shouldn’t have to scold you if you don’t attend a seminar – most of us are too big to fit in the time-out corner anyway. And yes, you are paying to attend Lancaster so if you don’t want to go to your seminars, it is completely your choice. Still, I think the right decision at the beginning of the day is to go.

For most of us, the chance to study at university comes once in a lifetime. So why not buy that second coffee pot, if a bit more caffeine is the only thing between you and your seminars? Go ahead: throw in those sleeping pills and a new mattress while you’re at it.

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