Who Are These Kids?
By Bryan Caplan
About 10% of my enrolled undergraduate students literally do nothing in my class. They attend zero lectures, do zero homework, and fail to show up for the midterm or the final. Yet when I’m handing out grades, the official roster confirms that they paid their tuition in full.
I understand dropping out. But if you’re going to drop out, why not drop out officially, so you get a tuition refund? Under GMU rules, students can only get a 100% refund if they drop before the second week starts. But they can get a 67% refund during the next two weeks, and a 33% refund until the end of the first month. Do students who do no work during month #1 seriously fail to ask for a refund because they imagine they’ll turn over a new leaf starting in month #2?
The obvious explanation, of course, is that it is the parents of these errant students, not the errant students themselves, who would pocket any refund. Students refuse to officially drop because they prefer to delay the day of parental wrath. To make this story work, however, either (a) students who do zero work must be pathologically myopic, or (b) parents of students who do zero work must be perversely forgiving.
1. All my undergrad courses are upper division. Are students who do zero work even more common in intro classes?
2. Are pathologically myopic students and perversely forgiving parents really the whole story here? Or is something else going on?
Answers from students who did zero work in at least one class are especially welcome.