How Much Does It Cost To Skip Class?

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Carol never wore her back-of-the-envelope goggles. Now she doesn’t need them.

As you may have noticed, we’ve been doing “science” lately in order to procrastinate actually doing anything, ever. So far, we’ve told you what percentage of the Student Life Fee you can drink back, and what percentage you can poncho-back. In this installment, we use our fancy back-of-the-envelope skillz (you can’t prove it’s on a Mel’s napkin) to guilt you into going to class more, maybe. Here’s a rough estimate of how much money is wasted each time you skip class to watch Homeland in bed:

B-of-the-E Assumptions

  • We all have that one lecture class that’s 3 points and meets twice a week, usually in Havemeyer 309
  • Each of those classes is an hour and 15 mins (but feels like 4 years)
  • Current tuition per semester of Columbia College is $22,514, aka $22,500
  • Like everyone Bwog knows takes about 16 points/semester
  • There are 16 weeks in this semester, minus 1 for reading week, so 15
  • At least two weeks will only have one class, due to Thanksgiving, Election Day, or your professor’s commute from NJ
  • If you take 16 points/semester, the cost of each point is $22,500/16, which equals about $1,400
  • A 3-point class is $1,400 x 3, so $4,200
  • This semester, a twice-weekly class will meet 2 times per week x 15 weeks, minus 2 times for aforementioned extenuating circumstances, which gives us 28 class periods
  • Each time you skip this class, it costs $4,200/28, which is roughly $150 per class


  • Skipping the average Columbia College class costs about $150 in wasted tuition money
  • That’s like 30 (flavored) Heights margaritas
  • It’s impossible to factor in the opportunity cost of NOT watching Homeland in bed during that one lecture, so this calculation may or may not be moot

Throwback to that creepy Chem Lab poster via Wikimedia Commons 

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  1. Op

    WHo r u?

    Do you want to practice business cases sometime?
    I have a Mckinsey Interview in November and have been told that this is the kind of shit they will ask.

  2. Twitch  

    This is actually shockingly bad economics. What you're measuring is a sunk cost--the cost that you've already paid for the classes (disregarding the fact that CC/SEAS students don't pay per credit). The problem is, that money's gone. What you lose by skipping class depends on how much money (or pleasure or whatever) you would gain by going to class.

    So the question is really how much skipping the class will effect your GPA and prospects of a good recommendation, and how much those factor into your future salary. For Ivy Leaguers that's actually a shitton of money...assuming that you're going into a profession where GPA points matter. My bet is that for those going to grad school (budding Lawyers and academics) it matters huge, since the difference in salary between a Columbia law grad and a second tier law school law grad is probably a lot per year, especially right out of the gate (when money is worth more because of discounting and high savings rates etc etc). Also for people in really fiercely competitive fields (maybe finance, I'm not really sure how it works).

    But since the impact on your GPA from ditching class every marginal class isn't going to be that high, and the pleasure is actually enormous, I'd say it's actually a really good deal and a gain, not a waste.

  3. CC-Alum

    This calculation is bogus. You pay per semester, to have proof that you got tested on the material and have something on your transcript. If you you have no mandatory attendance you can do whatever you want in that time and prepare with the books by yourself. That way you gain the knowledge and can learn whenever you want to and get the degree nonetheless.
    I took a mandatory class for my major, went to the first class, the midterm and the final, got an A-. Would I have learned more if I had been sitting in class dozing off? Debatable. Did I enjoy that semester and still get a good GPA in the end. Absolutely.

  4. Anonymous

    This is a great article because students complain about every fee and every dollar Columbia spends, but think nothing about skipping a class where the bulk of their financing is going.

  5. Anonymous

    chillll bro this is obviously a humorous post. I like this back of the envelope series. Keep doing it

  6. Anonymous  

    ...but seriously, how great is homeland?

  7. Anonymous

    LOL at the end. Also good calculations, seriously

  8. WATCH OUT  


  9. CC'14

    Brunette Claire Danes, wtfiu...

  10. NYU Student

    These are, nonetheless, only pennies to us.

  11. Hunter College Hawk

    >tfw the equivalent cost for missing a class at Hunter is $15.40

    Feels good man, feels real good, man.

  12. 16 points?

    i take 20 on average (including freshman year)... although that does explain why you wouldn't know me

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