Going from high school to college is a huge transition. No longer do you have teachers nagging you to turn in assignments or those annoying bells that you and your peers rushed to class to beat. You are now officially responsible for your actions and the decisions that you make. While the consequences of being late in college aren’t marked by a pink detention slip, they still exist and they’re more detrimental to your life than you might expect.
Just as it takes about 21 days to break a habit, it takes the same amount of time to adopt one. You might be thinking that it’s impossible for someone to be late that many times in a row, but I’ve seen it happen so many times and it was always the same people coming in five minutes (or later) after that imaginary bell rang signalling the start of class. The people who are repeatedly late probably have countless reasons why they can’t make it to class on time, but just like your future employer, your professor isn’t going to care too much about your excuses.
In fact, points might get deducted from your overall grade if you are constantly coming to class well after the lecture has begun. The consequences might be different at every university and, in some places, there might not even be any rules against being late but, again, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences.
If you can’t come to class on time, then showing up to an internship or a job when you’re supposed to be there might be extremely difficult for you. Being on time requires discipline and a lot of time management. This means going to bed at a reasonable time and, even if you don’t, still forcing yourself to get up when the alarm goes off (and remembering to set your alarm in the first place). If you have 15 minutes to get to each class, make sure you calculate how fast you would need to walk and how long it takes you to get from Point A to Point B.
Once you get into a habit of showing up on time, you won’t have any issues doing it in the future. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’d put more effort into being punctual if they had a job because they’re getting paid to be there, but even if those are your exact thoughts, that isn’t a good argument to make. You’re in college to get a degree that is necessary to land said job, and if that isn’t enough of an incentive to be on time, how can you be a good employee?
Not only can not being on time affect your professional future, but it could damage the impression your professor has of you. They might not be taking off points for your tardiness, but if you ever need them to write a letter of recommendation or if you need help with something, they could take into account that you never made an effort to show up to class on time and that you were repeatedly late. Sure, you have other professors to turn to if you ever need a recommendation, but if you’re not showing up to one class on time, you’re probably not managing your time well which means that you have probably been late to other classes.
It’s like a Domino Effect. Once you start being late to one class, that tardiness begins to affect your punctuality in your other classes. You miss out on so much when you’re not in class when it starts. The first five to ten minutes of class could be the material that’s going to be on the test, so if you’re steadily missing out on that information then you probably won’t do well on the tests. This is not to say that you won’t get good grades because you could possibly get the notes from a classmate or read from the book assigned for the class, but the probability is higher because lateness can translate into not putting in enough effort to get an A or a B, especially if you have a habit of being late.
Don’t get me wrong. Being late once or twice is bound to happen. Things come up and we all oversleep sometimes. Those few mishaps aren’t going to lead to failing grades. Just don’t make a habit of it because once it becomes one, it will take some effort to undo. If you are one of those people who is late three or four times a week, it’s not too late to try to do better. Adjust your sleep schedule, try to walk faster when getting from one class to another, and look for shortcuts if your classes are farther apart and you don’t have a bike or don’t want to chance getting on a bus or driving a car. There are always ways to make it to class on time, you just have to put in effort to make time work in your favor and not against you.
Tardiness is not something you want to carry with you each semester because, in the long run, it can affect your grades and your credibility in the eyes of your professors. There is a saying that goes ‘dance like nobody is watching.’ You don’t have to dance across campus (you can if it’ll get you moving faster), but what you do have to do is act like everyone is watching and, more importantly, you need to watch yourself. Hold yourself accountable and be a responsible student by being as punctual as possible.
If you need to imagine that annoying bell to put a little pep in your step, then do so. Do whatever it is you need to do to be on time because you can’t seize your education if you aren’t present the entire time.