App Alerts Parents if Their Kid Skips a College Class

You’re only young once, but our culture seems determined to make sure that childhood lasts into middle age, if not senility. To wit: There’s a new app, Class120, that pings parents when their kids don’t show up for their college classes. NBC reports:

Class120 ehdndyzati
works with the help of GPS or WiFi. The campus is mapped out and the student enters his or her class calendar information. If the student doesn’t show up at the location where the class is being held, a near-real-time message is sent to the parent, something along the lines of “Hi Joseph Montgomery, Class120 was unable to detect Amy Montgomery at the following class today: Biology101.” School administrators can also be notified.

[CEO of Core Principle, the company that developed the app, Jeff] Whorley projects that by next fall, Class120 will have about 5,000 users across the country. Lynn University is aiming to be the first school to implement the app-based attendance monitoring program campus-wide.

Combine that with the app that lets students file the equivalent of a flight plan before they walk across campus  (and alerts the police if they don’t get where they’re going) and it’s as if we truly believe young people cannot be safe or responsible without constant electronic supervision.

Or, maybe worse: Young people believe that themselves.

The Class120 creators claim it is not intrusive, in that no one HAS to sign up for it…yet. And it also only registers whether or not students show up for class — not where or how they spend the rest of their time…yet. But the double dystopian ideas behind it are that:

1 – People of college age are still too immature to internalize self-discipline.

2 – Parents must continue to helicopter their kids, even from afar.

You know: Some days it really feels like the country is going Free-Range — for instance, when everyone agrees that the Maryland couple’s children SHOULD be allowed to walk home from the park on their own. But with technology making it ever easier to keep electronic tabs on almost everything a child does, even into adulthood, I do wonder. – L

Son, you are two minutes late to your sociology class on the Surveillance Society!

Son, you are two minutes late to your sociology class on the Surveillance Society!

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87 Responses to App Alerts Parents if Their Kid Skips a College Class

  1. Bose in Phoenix AZ February 9, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    So, this company can write the app which follows the same kids’ attendance on the job after graduation… apps to chaperone their dates… apps to ensure they make it to their prenatal appointments… apps to notify the grandparents of arrivals to and departures from day care.

    What could go wrong? The 30- or 40-something kids would finally revolt and get court orders to place the now-senior parents under the same crushing virtual scrutiny they grew up with?

  2. lihtox February 9, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Sounds pretty easy to circumvent: “Hey dude, take my phone to class, will ya?”

  3. JP Merzetti February 9, 2015 at 1:14 am #

    Oh the thrall of it.
    (I can’t quite get a handle on the “thrill” yet….)

    We are drowning in apps.
    It’s raining apps.
    Just when you least expect it, an appstorm comes along and spoils the outing.

    I’m sorry but I just can’t get too serious about this –
    other than future sci fi imaginings of strange alien hovercraft (otherwise known as parents) darkening the campus atmosphere with dangerously predatory presence…
    all silent and invisible and twiddling from afar….
    like a kid is now an enemy of the state.
    (just what state is not known, only suspected)

    There’s them what will argue safety, sure.
    I can see that comin’ a mile off.
    There’s them as will argue like spoiled brats that their toys are necessary just because they were willed into existence (for fun and profit.)

    Hopefully, we can expect this nonsense to die off like pet rocks. And goodness to grace our future. We can only hope.

    Who knows…maybe one day kids will not have a clue how to tell the truth: no point – it is all electronically and digitally known, anyhow.
    Whoever it is we pray to apparently hears and sees all. Imagine.
    That’s a lot of stuff to keep track of.
    We appear to be heading toward such deification, it seems.
    I used to believe that this belied delusions of grandeur.
    Otherwise known as creeping insanity.
    But then on the other hand….”nuts” did not always = stupid.
    (and that’s a dangerous intelligence at work…)

    Enough seriousness on this one.

  4. Papilio February 9, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    So, what if the teacher is ill or the class is in another room?

    And how long before voting age goes up to 21?

  5. BL February 9, 2015 at 3:08 am #

    Big Brother is watching you.

  6. Cassie February 9, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    And which student aims to be the first to make money by taking 30 phones to class with him so they others can get away from the apron strings?

  7. Bartimaeus February 9, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    This seems to miss an important point of going to college: greater freedom. And part of that is the freedom to take the consequences— if you miss class, the consequences should not be that your parents chew you out. It’s that you weren’t listening when whatever was taught, was taught, and if you want to make that up then you have to do it on your own time.

  8. baby-paramedic February 9, 2015 at 5:40 am #

    So, we had this class/seminar we super duper had to go. Compulsory. No way to make it up.
    Alas, I had work that day and kind of needed to do the shift to pay rent (let alone food).
    So, I gave my electronic thingy we used to sign into classes to a friend, who swiped it in.
    I was “present”, and so “passed” the seminar.

  9. Jen February 9, 2015 at 6:07 am #

    I work at and teach a first-year class at a university. The vast majority of the kids are great. However, I suspect the folks that think this app is a good idea are the same ones who created the kids that can’t complete an assignment without coming to my office 3 or 4 times or email me to let me know they are sick and send 4 status updates over the weekend to let me know whether they will be in class on Monday. They are all good kids but I spend a lot of time counseling them so they can make decisions on their own–about when it is appropriate to come to class or skip it, what are valid excuses, how to know when they have done a satisfactory job on their homework, etc. Some get upset if I don’t answer them within an hour or two. I worry about the lives they will create if they work so hard to satisfy everyone, constantly seeking external validation, but have not developed internal motivation.

  10. Jill February 9, 2015 at 7:04 am #

    This one doesn’t seem to be about safety. It seems like it’s meant for parents who want to be sure that the money they forked over for their kid’s education isn’t wasted by the kid goofing off and ditching class.

  11. MichaelF February 9, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    “There’s an app for that!”

    If you have a fear, desire or need you can get an app for it. Just like we used to get pills for anything. Now its just how we do the intake.

  12. Jen February 9, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    I think that if you are worried that your kids will waste your money at college by consistently not going to class, they may not be ready for college. Sending them and keeping tabs on them won’t necessarily help.

  13. caiti February 9, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    The excuse that a parent wants to make sure their money is well spent just doesn’t hold water. The point of going away to college is to allow the adult-child to refine their independence in a structured environment. Otherwise, why “go away” to college in an era in which students can take any class remotely from any part of the world? The whole point of college is to give the offspring a gentle nudge out of the nest.

  14. Beth February 9, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    Not only that, sending them to college is a time to make decisions and suffer the consequences….and skipping a class can have consequences, that the kid might think about the next time it seems like a good idea to skip.

  15. Warren February 9, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Sorry “adult-child”, that is just the worst way to describe a human being. You are either an adult or a child, not both at the same time. Thinking along these lines is part of the problem.

    Yes as a parent you want them to attend, but the actual school does not want your app calling them to say your snowflake skipped class. They don’t care. You paid, they have your nonrefundable tuition. I can see college admins that get the first few app notifications, calling said parents and informing them that it is not the college’s responsibility to make sure the student attends, it is the students job to do that. And to stop their little app from further notifications.

  16. Warren February 9, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Here’s a better idea. Since offspring have been able to successfully been able to sue their parents for tuition, then turn the tables around.

    If you have proof that your son or daughter did not make a valid attempt at getting the education you paid for, by poor attendance, excessive partying or whatever, then sue them to get your tuition back.

  17. Suzanne Lucas February 9, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    This was the best part of college! As a straight A, goody-goody high school student, I was fascinated that I could skip a class and on one would care. So, most mornings, I skipped Physical Science 100 and ate donuts instead.

    I got a bad grade and had to retake the class.

    Lesson learned!

  18. Ann in LA February 9, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    I can see one useful use of this: many students these days are reaching college without the skills to stay there. In particular, those who come from some of our worst public schools. These are kids who are getting in because community colleges just look to see if you have a student loan and a pulse, or because states have rules saying the top 10% in a high school class get in–even if the schools they come from are so bad that they have to take remedial classes to try to finally get them their high school education. (At some colleges 30-40% of incoming students need remediation.)

    They may never have been taught the skill of showing up on time. Around the country, there are programs to help these students stay in college and to teach them to show up for classes. This could help with that effort.

  19. Dirge February 9, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    That is the age that kids should learn that they need to take responsibility for themselves, not out of fear of punishment, instead because it is the only way to succeed. If you don’t learn it then, you will learn it on your first job, where the stigma for failure is much worse.

  20. TM February 9, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    So … what happens when the adult in question deletes this app from their phone? Or are we suggesting that in addition to tracking whether or not adults are or are not going to class (speaking of, why the heck do colleges have mandatory attendance policies?) we’re also going to lock down their phone like a child such that they need parental permission to install or delete applications?

  21. Sharon February 9, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    I trust my 7th grader not to skip school. It is her job to attend school and try to earn good grades. By the time she attends college in the year 2020 I will trust her to attend classes or drop them. I don’t intend to bug her professors I rarely talk to her middle school teachers she makes her own arrangements to make up tests and extra help when needed.

  22. Randy February 9, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    I wonder how they get past the privacy rules that surround college education? I remember being a lowly TA and getting calls from student’s parents, and being very strictly told by the administration that the only thing I could tell them is that if they have concerns they should talk to their child. Can’t talk to them about grades. Can’t talk to them about attendance.

    So with the slew of FERPA / HIPAA laws surrounded education, how does this thing not violate them?

  23. Jen February 9, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    @Ann in LA
    I’m not sure that this app is going to help the students you refer to – those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or live in poor school districts. Their parents aren’t likely going to all of a sudden get involved.

    We do a lot of remedial work with the kids – academic, study habits, etc. . .and a lot of work surrounding “how to behave in a professional environment.” All of this is lost if a student does not take some level of responsibility for him or herself. For some, this is the first time they have not heard the implicit message “I will do this for you because I don’t trust that you can do this for yourself.” Most will rise to the occasion. It’s a joy and a privilege to watch.

    If they aren’t already, these kids will need to get themselves up and get to a job 5 days a week, rain or shine whether they’re sick or having fun or bored. . .what happens then?

  24. ARM February 9, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Randy – I was wondering about how this relates to FERPA too. I’m guessing the student has to agree to have the app on the phone – at least if they want mommy and daddy to provide a free phone. So the college wouldn’t be involved and FERPA is irrelevant. Although, in a funny way, FERPA is probably partly responsible for this; parents are no doubt frustrated to be footing the bill for college without having the right to be informed of the student’s grades or even whether they’re still enrolled. I can tell you if I pay my son’s college tuition, I’ll darn sure expect that he show me his grades.

    I’ve taught college kids recently, and it’s bizarre how coddled and yet constrained they are. They’re spoiled in that very few are expected to work to help pay their way – many of my students spent summers doing parent-paid fun trips or enrichment activities. Showing up on time or taking responsibility for anything was foreign to them. But on the other hand their parents were domineering in ways that my generation would never have tolerated: the parents expect daily (or more than daily) calls and texts, and dictate their choice of major, in many cases a major totally unsuited to the kid’s abilities and temperament. From what I could see the kids mostly sensed something was wrong with all this, and resented their excessive dependence and attachment on the parents. Sadly, they typically acted out by being irresponsible, rather than by taking responsibility and declaring independence.

  25. Donald February 9, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    The country is going free range and we’re proud of our leader. Even if 90% of the people are free range, that leaves 10% that aren’t. That means there is still a large amount of potential customers.

  26. Melissa February 9, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    My parents dropped 18-year-old me off at university, and attended my graduation 5 years later.

    Other than listening to some bitching about assignments over holidays at home, I’m pretty sure that was the full extent of their involvement in my university career. Oh – they cosigned my student loan applications when that was required.

    This was only 15-18 years ago.

  27. Melissa February 9, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    My parents dropped 18-year-old me off at university, and attended my graduation 5 years later.

    Other than listening to some bitching about assignments over holidays at home, I’m pretty sure that was the full extent of their involvement in my university career. Oh – they cosigned my student loan applications when that was required.

    This was only 15-18 years ago.

  28. GRS February 9, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    I don’t think a school could make this mandatory without running into problems with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). For that matter, this whole program may run into problems with FERPA.

    Can any lawyers speak to this? This smells of a potential lawsuit or the right federal bureaucrat jumping all over this.

  29. Tern February 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    I teach at a state university and while there may be some parents who would use this, I don’t find it to be the norm or anything close. The people in my classes are not kids anymore, and I don’t call them children or treat them like children. Most of them rise to the occasion just fine.

  30. J- February 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    You shouldn’t take your phone to class, you will be too tempted to use it.


    Former Grad Teaching Assistant, J- Ph.D.

  31. Mandy February 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    I am an instructor at a supposedly excellent college, and the involvement of the parents in Junior and Juniorette’s lives is really…disquieting. “Surprise visits” are becoming more and more of a thing: where the parents, who often live on the other side of the country, suddenly drop into town unannounced and expect Junior/Juniorette to SIMULTANEOUSLY 1) drop everything and entertain them for a weekend, and 2) prove that they don’t use their weekends to do anything untoward like socialize or deviate from their studies. I had one student come into class in tears once because his parents’ surprise visit had forced him to cancel a date with a girl he really liked, and she had been unsettled enough by the folks’ behavior that she wasn’t sure she wanted to reschedule.

    By the time they’re across the country for school, it’s time to let them go.

  32. John February 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    Another wonderful tool for never letting go!!! I for one will not be using this app when my now 16 year old daughter goes to college and will make sure my ex-wife never finds it exists because my daughter would be forced to use yet another tool in the hovering parenting tool bag.
    Keep up the good work about educating all of us on raising free range children!
    Lombard, Illinois

  33. pentamom February 9, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    The “parents are paying” excuse certainly does NOT work. If we were talking about making a 10 year old practice his instrument because the parents were paying for music lessons, that would be one thing. But this is COLLEGE and these are ADULTS.

    First, it’s not analogous to what happens with a paid benefit or loaned money in the real world. If you borrow money from the bank, they don’t call your boss every day and ask if you’re showing up at work and doing your job. If your company pays your tuition, they don’t stop by your house to make sure you’re studying.

    What they do, is make the benefit contingent upon performance. If you don’t maintain a C average, most companies will pull the tuition benefit. If you miss loan payments, they repossess whatever you put up for the money. You lose the benefit when you actually FAIL, but they don’t follow you around making sure you’ll keep the bargain.

    If you have so little faith in your kid’s ability to comprehend “if I flunk out, my parents will stop paying” that you think you have to keep tabs on whether he’s going to class, don’t pay the tuition or cosign the loan! If you think he’s responsible enough to be trusted with it, check up on the grades every semester, don’t micromanage his life!

  34. lollipoplover February 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Cutting classes and dealing with the consequences of a *bad* behavior is a valuable life lesson. My senior year of college, I broke my leg and was on crutches during a brutal snowy, northeast winter and with no car. Getting to classes on campus was very difficult as I lived off campus. So I blew off classes and spent endless hours trying to save the princess in Super Mario bros. (early 90’s version) with my stoner roommates. My grades toke a nose dive.

    I went to see my marketing professors who told me I could take a medical leave (and not graduate on time) or they could work out a plan where I would help them with their student marketing research projects in exchange for class credit. I took the research. So I spent endless hours watching movies and recording the the usage of cigarettes and alcohol in blockbuster movies to complete marketing degree with my stoner roommates. I graduated on time, with honors, and had a job lined up.

    What good would my parents be in helping me with skipped classes? Besides, who has time to STALK their adult children?
    Stalking/tracking someone, like an animal is a predatory behavior used to control and intimidate. At least is is for adults, which these college students are.
    This is just a Nagging 2.0 app. If you need it, your kid is not ready for college.

  35. Beth February 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    I have a kid in college now, and one that graduated in 2010, and, with both, the only way to see their grades was them showing them to me. At their colleges, there wasn’t even a way to “opt out” of privacy and give permission for their grades to be sent to us. So yeah, the privacy issue is interesting.

    @ARM, not every parent pays for their kid’s phone so not sure the snarkiness about a “free phone” was necessary. Shockingly, there are college students who work, pay their own way, skip a class once in awhile, and STILL show their parents their grades without being badgered.

  36. Resident Iconoclast February 9, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m almost speechless. The generation that touted itself as the “peace, love, and anti-war” generation against the Establishment, has created the new, improved STASI.

    What are we going to do, when the kids decide to pull the plug on us?

  37. Montreal Dad February 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    For once I find myself in disagreement with Lenore.

    For me, it’s about $$$MONEY$$$ – if I’m paying for my kid to go to school, I think I have the right to oversight that he actually goes to class.

    If s/he pays, then no.

  38. Montreal Dad February 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    For once I find myself in disagreement with Lenore.

    For me, it’s about $$$MONEY$$$ – if I’m paying for my kid to go to school, I think I have the right to oversight that he actually goes to class.

    If s/he pays, then no.

  39. Tsu Dho Nimh February 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    It’s usually possible for a student to grant read-only access to their grades.

    As for attendance – ankle bracelets!

  40. Emily Morris February 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm #


    The vast majority of college students are 18+ and thus freakin’ adults!

    If you’re paying for your kid’s college, make some sort of agreement if you must have your investment. Do not play silly games like this.

    I can’t believe adults would allow their parents to do this!

  41. Warren February 9, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    @Montreal Dad,

    Wrong wrong wrong. If you trust them to attend, then pay for it. If you don’t trust them to attend, don’t pay for it. That simple.

    And if you pay while not trusting them to attend, then the old saying is true. A fool and their money are soon parted.

  42. Jenny Islander February 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    I know somebody whose parents paid for college and “let” him blow off classes, drink, crash his truck (that they also paid for), get arrested, and get banned from campus.

    They also “let” him figure out how to pay for trade school his own self. He is now a responsible dad with a solid job.

  43. Jenny Islander February 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Forgot to add: Sometimes experience is the best teacher. If they had bird-dogged him through college, he would have hated their guts and gone on drinking and driving like an idiot when they weren’t looking. But they let him experience the consequences of his actions.

  44. Emily Morris February 9, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    I’m with Warren here. I don’t get the money thing. Your offspring is 18+. He decides to go to college. If you pay for it, kudos to you. If you want your paying to be contingent on performance, fine.

    But your offspring is an adult. College it not suppose to be High School 2.0.

    Don’t be stalking them or calling up the professors. You paid some money, it’s not a loan contract.

  45. Kurt Kemmerer February 9, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    This is obviously ridiculous, as has been noted. However, I also wonder how accurate it is. I know a parent who used the phone GPS to track her kid to see if she went to the gym. The GPS said the kid was a few blocks away, out on the street, but the kid insisted she had gone to the gym, over and over again.

    Finally, the parent went to the gym, and, even though the GPS insisted the kid was somewhere else, she was at the gym.

  46. lollipoplover February 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    “Lynn University is aiming to be the first school to implement the app-based attendance monitoring program campus-wide.

    Prison college!

    Seriously, parents need to get a life outside their children.
    If you are still tracking them like packages as adults, seek therapy. College is a time to learn independence and real life consequences for adult decisions. One of them is getting to class on time. Not trusting your kids can seriously damage your relationship with your children. Sometimes skipping a class (say to study for a very important exam the same day) is actually a GOOD decision. One that doesn’t need to *ping* a parent.

    Honestly, I plan to throw a huge party when my children go away to college. I want to be an active couple like the male impotence commercials (without the impotence part) and travel and have fun. We raised 3 kids, Woot woot!
    I do not want to be notified when my son skips astronomy 101. I won’t care. Seriously.

  47. Reziac February 9, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    I’d say if the parents are paying for college, they deserve to get what they pay for, and that means their kid attending class.

    As to whether that is anyone else’s business? No. That’s between parent and child. How they deal with it is also their business.

    But there’s a bigger problem here… if you raised kids that routinely skip class, you’ve got deeper issues of trust and responsibility than any amount of attendance reporting can fix.

    Responsibility develops from doing stuff yourself, taking your own risks and learning your own lessons. If we prevent kids from doing that, how the hell do we expect them to shoulder even a basic responsibility like showing up for class??

  48. Warren February 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    I wonder if the college that is thinking of adapting this technology is doing so out of frustration of being hounded by helicopter parents.

  49. Jenirose Price February 9, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    It’s no wonder these poor children even made it out of the house. Now parents are monitoring every facet of their child’s life how is a child supposed to know if they are capable of being responsible if their own parents don’t even trust them. Let that child skip that class, let them be culpable for the repercussions, and discover what happens if you choose to neglect your responsibilities. Don’t come running to their aide, don’t “snowplough” the path for them, where do we draw the line? How can kids go confidently out into this world when they feel that they are not trusted by the parents that sent them out into this world.

  50. Dan February 9, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    Regarding Lenore’s point #2. At this point I think it has ceased to be a helicopter operation and become a drone mission.

    (Not to be confused, however, with the drone coming from the front of said unoccupied classroom)

  51. Vanessa February 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    My daughter’s in high school now, and I’ve occasionally let her skip her first-period class to finish work she needed to turn in later that morning. The first time I suggested it, she said “You can DO that?” and I said “How do you think I managed to get through college while working 35 hours a week?” Suffice to say, I’m not going to want to be alerted every time she skips a lecture, whether it’s to write a paper for another class or to go get donuts. She can manage that on her own.

  52. Emily Morris February 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    I think mostly feel bad for the admin. No one at that level at a college wants to be dealing with phone alerts all day long.

    The university is not there to babysit your adult.

  53. J.T. Wenting February 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Not much different from already existing monitoring apps for remote workers and security staff that send out alarm signals if a dead man’s button isn’t pressed every X minutes or if there’s a fall detected.
    But with a more insidious purpose indeed. And no doubt soon schools will demand students use it and link it to their course attendance records.

  54. Mandy February 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    My parents didn’t bug me about attendance as long as my grades were ok. In fact, I doubt they ever asked. But they did hassle me about money and tried to micromanage me that way. They promised a certain allowance if I would keep a log of expenditures. I got a job and a credit card instead. Had to buy food or pay rent on the card a few times, but nobody was looking over my shoulder. When I analyzed my statements, I felt good that my non-essential purchases (including replacing falling-apart undies) was less than 10% of my spending. Without mom and dad “helping”. And I still resented for years the way they tried. It was a big problem in our relationship.

  55. Beth February 9, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    @Reziac, no one said anything about “routinely” skipping class in terms of this app, as far as I can tell. But seriously, if your over-18 adult wants to skip a morning class in order to study for a big test in an afternoon class, is that really a problem that you need to be immediately informed about? School administrators too?

  56. Ravana February 9, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Some student is going to make a FORTUNE taking phones to classes!

  57. Inara February 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    I blew off classes for two courses while at uni: the first because the professor stood and literally read out of the textbook the entire time and the second because she basically just talked about herself and her trips instead of teaching anything. Both times I figured I could make better use of my time, and did. And got A’s in both courses. My parents forcing me to attend the lectures would have been a waste—and they wouldn’t have since they trusted my judgement to do what was best for my education. Cut the apron strings!

  58. Anonymous February 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

    Ann, I sort of see your point. I went to a college where many people were the first in their family to go, and the college had compulsory lecture attendance (through the rolls being marked), which surprised some friends from other colleges. However, the thing with compulsory lecture attendance was that the onus/responsibility was on the student – miss more than x number of lectures and you failed the subject (there was some flexibility if you presented a medical certificate). The thing with this was that the parents weren’t involved in the process at all.

  59. tz February 9, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    Well, you see, they got drunk two weeks earlier at a Frat party and the only available appointment at the clinic was at the same time as class…

    First if the parents are paying and the grades are slipping, it might be a question of “ok, are you really going to class, and if you get at least a 3.0 we will drop the app”.

    There is a point when discipline is required. If the student is paying for college, they can just delete the app – they are already emancipated. If the parents are still coddling by providing the cash, then they can insist on monitoring.

  60. Braaainz February 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    This is all easily circumnavigated. The students just need to turn off Location/GPS for when they’re supposed to be in class, or tell their parents that they forgot to take their cellphone with them to class that day.

    If anyone is aghast by this kind of app, merely review the app and say about how much risk it will put your kids under. I mean, kidnappers will know exactly where your kids are if they hack the app! I say, let’s use the prevalent fear and paranoia against the overreach for a change.

  61. Donna February 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    I certainly would have hated this app in college. I have a few grades on my college transcript from classes I never attended.

    Even if you do want to check your “investment” if paying for college, wouldn’t it be better to be concerned with the end result as opposed to the process of getting there? I got Bs in those classes I never attended. It wasn’t that I didn’t learn the material, it was that I didn’t need the class to do it. Maybe I would have gotten As if I had attended class, but my energies seemed better spent elsewhere (mostly at work so I could pay for my college education).

  62. Jenny Islander February 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    @Reziac: Is attendance at all classes a metric of getting one’s parents’ money’s worth out of college?

  63. Sarah J February 10, 2015 at 3:17 am #

    If I were a parent and I thought this app was necessary, I’d reconsider whether my child was college material.

  64. Alex February 10, 2015 at 4:10 am #

    I recently went back to college as an (older) adult and this idea horrifies me. Putting aside the fact that I was independent and paying my own way, etc., it’s important to remember that students often have good reasons for not going to class that folks who aren’t in college simply can’t understand. The biggest one is that profs often waste class time. I had one who just told stories the entire time and gave us a study guide to read with the actual material. Another basically read the book to us. I had quite a few that talked about the material but warned us in advance that they take questions only out of the notes they emailed us and that lecture was simply to supplement those notes. Since I don’t learn much through passive listening (few people do), class was less about learning and more a chance to meet the prof, talk with other students, ask questions, and, frankly, to take a break from the real work that was occurring outside the classroom.

    But I’ve seen this come up time and time again as adults who haven’t been in college for years talk about it (especially in discussions of MOOCs): lecture is treated as the actual “teaching” and nothing else is important.

    So many students skip so many classes (like over half of classes are skipped, well over half). Maybe we should rethink what occurs in class instead of thinking that the students who skip class are aberrations.

  65. BL February 10, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    I was looking at this company’s ads on youtube and their major point seems to be the correlation between college grades/graduation and class attendance. But …

    Remember that correlation is not causation. Does nannying unmotivated students into class really help? Will they still do the out-of-class work? Are they even paying attention in class?

    One of the ads was about athletes. Remember last year the major university quarterback who sent out a Twitter message, apparently from a class, that he was there “to play football, not to play class.”? Oh yeah, his team won the national title.

  66. pentamom February 10, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    “If the parents are still coddling by providing the cash, then they can insist on monitoring.”

    Since providing the cash is not necessarily coddling, no, they can’t. Families make different decisions about what they directly provide and what they require kids to ear on their own, and every decision different from yours is not “coddling.”

    If they’re providing the cash, they should trust the student to make the appropriate decisions about how to appropriately benefit from what their parents are providing. If they don’t trust the student to make those choices, they should not provide the cash. If the student fails the trust by poor performance due to their own lack of responsibility, the parents can stop providing. But micro-managing adults is never a good idea, and providing expensive benefits to people who don’t conduct themselves as adult is an even worse one.

  67. pentamom February 10, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    Sorry, that’s “earn” on their own.

  68. Ann in LA February 10, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Jen and Anonymous: I was thinking that it wouldn’t be a parent on the other end of the app. Many schools set up a mentoring system for students they think might fall through the cracks. My alma mater has a that kind of a program that works to help minority student from poor schools succeed.

    A lot of student from terrible schools hit a wall when they end up at selective colleges. They are used to being the top student at their school without having to do a lot of work to get there. They might be brilliant students, but they’ve never been subjected to a rigorous program before. That’s where the mentorship programs come into play.

    Having a way to work with the student to get them to class could be helpful. It would be the mentors on campus who would get the ping, and be able to follow up in person on campus to find out what happened.

  69. Warren February 10, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    When your son or daughter enters into college they in essence are taking on the job of obtaining an education.

    I have worked for both types of employers. Ones that hire you to do a job, and allow you to do that job. Ones that hire you to do a job, and micromanage every move you make.

    Employers that hire the right person and allow them to do the work get far more productivity out of that person, than the worker that is micromanaged.

    I have stood in a manager’s office and told them “You hired me to do a job. If you think you hired the wrong person, then fire my ass. Or you hired me and trust me, so leave me alone so I can get the job done.”

    You hear all sorts of excuses from them wanting to be involved, wanting you to feel they are there to help, to just wanting to remain in the loop. They are all excuses for those with control issues.

    It does not matter if you are an employer, manager or parent, if you need to micromanage there is one of two things wrong, or both.
    1. You haven’t provided the proper training to your employee or child.
    2. You feel insecure or inadequate, and must control as much as possible.

    Either way you have to let go.

  70. Stephen Maturin February 10, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    I am going to open a service that will pick up kids cell phones and walk them to class when they don’t want to go! Then we will return them right after class. I’ll make millions!

  71. pentamom February 10, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    All these plans to make money off of taking phones to class (and I’ll add a shout-out here to Stephen Maturin for your excellent screen name) sound great on paper, but realistically, skipping class is generally not done with the kind of forethought this would require, except in some cases as people have mentioned here where the class time is simply not worth attending and the student makes that a conscious decision. Usually, it’s a matter of failure to make the effort, and is often a last-minute decision, so the effort to contact the phone carrier service and meet up with the appropriate person is probably not going to be there, either.

  72. pentamom February 10, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Ann, I don’t think mentoring programs like that are a bad idea, if that’s the kind of college culture the student wants to sign on to. The thing is, all of that could be handled by means of the instructors being asked to keep attendance for first year students and contacting the department that handles the mentoring program when a particular student seems to be missing too often. It doesn’t require an app that “reports in” every time you do or don’t go to class. That’s just too intrusive for the purpose.

  73. Buffy February 10, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks, pentamom. The whole idea that parents saving for their child’s college education, and then actually using that saved money to help pay for college, is “coddling” burns me no end. It reminds me of the argument on this site a couple years ago that keeping one’s adult child on the parent’s health insurance (for whatever reason, which MIGHT be the adult child doesn’t have a job that provides it) was coddling. People would have rather had their child face catastrophic medical bills than have them insured, so as not to “coddle” them.

  74. pentamom February 10, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Also, your language “to get them to class” bothers me just a little. If a student really seems to be missing the boat and isn’t taking the responsibility of class attendance seriously, then some counseling is in order. But the goal shouldn’t be to “get them to class,” but to get them to understand what’s necessary to succeed in college, so that if they’re skipping classes, they’re either legitimately deciding that it’s a responsible choice at a given time, or they’re conscious of the risk they’re taking or the objectively bad choice they’re making. In the latter case, it’s nobody else’s problem if they decide that college responsibilities aren’t for them (even if that’s a really stupid decision for a particular person), and nobody’s job to “get them” anywhere.

  75. Stephen Maturin February 10, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    You are right of course pentamom. BTW you now have a friend for life because you know good old Stephen Maturin; IMHO the better half of the dynamic Napoleonic sea-faring duo. In any case, I try not to hold my kids to behaviors my parents trusted me with so no class skipping app for me. I have to trust them until the grades come home. From time to time I still have anxiety dreams about the grades coming home, or missing the exam.

  76. Emily Morris February 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I admit, I’m rather amazed at the notion of people getting into college without the awareness one ought to participate in class. I believe what Ann is telling me about these students, I trust her on that, but I still find the concept rather unbelievable. And sad. What environment are you from if as an adult you don’t have basic personal responsibility?

  77. Donna February 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    Emily Morris – It isn’t about personal responsibility. It is about moving from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond.

    MANY college students were the top of their class in high school and got there without having to put forth much, if any, effort. They could not study and still get As on tests; ditch class and still keep up; and do nothing for weeks and then just cram for a test the night before. Because they don’t have any real knowledge that college is different – especially prevalent in first generation college students – they take the same lackadaisical attitude they had in high school and it doesn’t work.

  78. Emily February 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    If this app had existed when I was in university (and if my parents used it, which I doubt they would have), it would have been going off constantly. Even though I was a good student, I didn’t always follow the exact same schedule that the university gave me on paper, because I was a music major. All of these situations actually happened to me in university, and would have created “false positives” on the “make sure my adult child got to class” app:

    1. Private lessons and chamber ensemble rehearsals that got moved around to suit people’s varying schedules.

    2. Large ensemble performances that superseded other classes.

    3. Classes without mandatory attendance, such as studio art classes. The “scheduled class time” really meant “The professor will be at the studio during this time to offer help and guidance, but you can paint whenever you want, as long as you finish all the paintings on the syllabus by the end of the semester.”

    4. The professors’ strike in my first year.

    5. The flood in my third year–nobody was hurt, but the university shut down for a few days because nobody could get in or out.

    6. The shift in schedule after the flood–the university re-opened on a Thursday, if I remember correctly, but for some reason, the administration decided to do that day on a Monday schedule.

    7. Snow days

    8. Classes getting cancelled when our profs got sick, or held up somewhere, or were travelling and couldn’t get back in time.

    I’m sure there were other reasons as well, that would have created a “false positive” on that app, but there were also other variables that would have created “false negatives,” i.e., when we had extra rehearsals scheduled in the run-up to a major performance. I don’t think it would have really been necessary, though, because most people I knew actually wanted to go to class.

  79. Ann in L.A. February 10, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Going to college and being ready for college have become two different things:


    The need for remediation is widespread. When considering all first-time undergraduates, stud­ies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one re­medial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent.<<

  80. Suzanne February 10, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    This would violate their privacy, something they have a right to when they turn 18. I agree with whoever questioned when will the voting age move to 21. I agree with the first 2 years of college being free but I think it will be the first step in changing the age of adulthood to 21. To the person (people) who think it is ok to completely violate your child’s rights because you’re paying for it why not try this – if your child fails their class(es) do not pay for any more or pay for more than the number of classes passed, if they are going to class and doing the work they will pass. As a 38 year-old mom who manages to balance a full class load, with family and volunteer activities and working part time I can say with confidence if you show up for class and do the work you will pass. If they don’t want to be there then you are wasting your money anyway.

  81. serena February 10, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    So the same people who don’t believe the librarian, lifeguard, etc “babysit” completely competent children alone think an app is appropriate for babysitting their “adult” children?

  82. ifsogirl February 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    My senior high, grades 11 & 12, pretty much acted like a mini college. There were staggered schedules, students may start classes at 8:00am or at 9:20am, and classes ran til 4:00pm. Depending on which start time you had and if you were taking extra courses you could have a long day. Classes were 1 hr 15 minutes long with 5 minutes between each. We had no bells to tell you when to get to next class, teachers didn’t call home if you were absent, some didn’t even take attendance. You were expected to be responsible.

  83. Emily February 10, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    >>I can say with confidence if you show up for class and do the work you will pass.<<

    That's not necessarily true. I failed my final semester of compulsory musical theory (second semester of second year), so I had to retake it the following year. It wasn't for lack of trying; I went to class, did the assignments to the best of my ability, and got help when I needed it, but I struggled with it, a lot, and I wasn't the only one who had to repeat it. In third year, when I re-took Theory IV, our prof actually admitted that he'd made the final exam too difficult the previous year, and he had–it was so difficult that he'd allocated six hours for it.

  84. Mike February 11, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    I guess this is just one way to protect a $100k investment…

  85. Emily February 11, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    >>I guess this is just one way to protect a $100k investment…<<

    Even then, there are no guarantees. I mean, it's entirely possible to put in the effort in university, graduate (maybe even with Honours, or Distinction, or whatever the school calls it), and then still run up against the Great Wall of Recession. When I was in university, I didn't go to class because there was an app tracking me, but because I wanted to learn. My parents didn't feel the need to monitor my attendance in classes, because they believed in me, and I appreciated it. For all the dubious benefits of this app, I can see it ruining a lot of relationships between parents and their college-and-university-aged offspring.

    On a related note, we actually had a "tracker" system in high school, all done on paper (since this was before everyone had a regular cell phone, let alone a smartphone). Every day, the teachers would sign off that the student was in each scheduled class, and list the homework, and the parent would sign off after the student did the homework, BUT this was a punishment/"action plan" for students who were serially truant, didn't do their schoolwork, or both. You wouldn't get put on a tracker just for struggling in one subject–when I had trouble with math, the school helped me, by finding me a tutor, and allowing me to write my tests in the Resource Room with extended time, and someone to help me if I needed it. So, since the tracker system was very much for deliberate slackers, there was a huge stigma attached to being on it (although, you could theoretically ask to be put on one, if you wanted help with accountability), and the "tracker" students were considered to be "bad" kids, just the same as those who fought, swore at teachers, and did drugs. So, it just galls me that what used to be a fairly serious punishment when I was in HIGH SCHOOL, is now being marketed as a "standard practice" for students in UNIVERSITY.

  86. SOA February 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    See I think this is way over reach. However, I will put restrictions on my adult children while in college. If they want me to pay for college whatsoever whether that be tuition, living expenses, books, etc, then I do get to know that you are putting that money to good use.

    But I don’t need to call your Professors up to ask them. I don’t need to be breathing over your shoulder. I don’t need to get a message if you miss class.

    Just show me your class registration so I have proof you did sign up and that the classes are not all blow off jerking around classes. Then at the end of the semester show me your grades. If I feel you are wasting my money then you won’t get anymore of it. Done and done. Or you get one warning to do better and get one more semester to do better and after that you are cut off.

    That is the policy my husband and I came up with and I think it is fair. If we are not contributing any money, they can do whatever the hell they want and it is none of my business and I will not even ask how they are doing besides just making conversation. Because they are adults at that point and its their life.

    My parents paid for my college and living expenses for the most part and the stipulation was I help them around the house, I be a well behaved young lady, I work summers to help pay my expenses and I bring home very good grades and don’t waste time on stupid classes. I was able to pull that off and I felt that was fair.

    They never micromanaged me. They did ask to see report card and I happily showed them. My mother in law though was overstepping with my husband. She had the same deal with him but she would open his mail addressed to him from the college and see his grades before he even had a chance to see them himself and bring them to her. I told him not only was she committing a federal crime but she was showing absolutely zero trust in him because he always made good grades and would have happily shown us if she asked or on his own time. She did not have to greedy about it like she was trying to catch him in an act.

  87. Kara February 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    I’m a professor at a state university in one of the poorest cities in an otherwise fairly well-off state. I don’t talk to parents unless they are calling due to concern about their child’s mental health (I haven’t talked to my child in three weeks, and I’m beside myself-then I will start making phone calls to appropriate depts on campus). It’s actually in my syllabus.

    I see these apps and anything that attempts to put “controls” on kids, as trying to take the hard part out of parenting. If I put a control on your phone that alerts me when you skip class, I don’t have to tell you “no”. No. I won’t pay for school. No. I won’t keep enabling you. No.