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The semester has begun. Time seems like it is no longer yours; it belongs to the school work and life’s many other demands.
Not only are students filled with a tumultuous mix of excitement, dread, and curiosity when school starts, but it is also a tough time for professors, too. So the last thing you want to be is the student that winds up on professors’ Oh-God-Not-This-Student-Again list.
To help you avoid unintentionally peeving your prof, we spoke to a veteran professor, we’ll call “Professor A,” to get the lowdown on what ticks faculty of the most:
“DID I MISS ANYTHING?”
It’s the most insulting question a student can ask: “You can’t imagine how many students will miss a class, then come up to me and ask ‘Did I miss anything?‘” says Professor A.
How is an instructor to answer this question? “Did you miss anything? Oh no, not really. I just prattled on for an hour, then we spent the rest of the class watching cat videos. It’s not as if what I say during class is important or anything.”
If you didn’t make it to class, the appropriate way to catch up is to ask a classmate what went down (so be sure to look for a assiduous note-taker in your first class). If there’s absolutely no one to ask, approach the professor respectfully. Apologize for missing the class, and instead of asking if you “missed anything,” ask what was discussed, which sections of reading were referenced and what you need to do to prepare for the next class.
DON’T TALK TO THEM LIKE THEY’RE FELLOW STUDENTS
Do you walk into your doctor’s office and say “Hey Suzie! ‘Sup?” No? Well then don’t do it with your instructor. Pay faculty with the respect they’ve earned.
Our professor says she eventually invites students to call her by her first name, “but I find that some students will simply assume they can take that liberty automatically.” She’s also noticed a troubling trend: students will address their male teachers as “professor” but casually use first names when talking to faculty of color or female professors.
It should go without saying that you don’t swear in front of your professor.
THE EMAIL DILEMMA
Few students realize how much work faculty have to do outside the classroom. It’s much more than coming up with reading assignments and grading papers. Faculty members are often on multiple committees and heading projects or studies in their field.
This is why it’s unreasonable to expect a speedy response to that email you sent at 2:00 AM. Your professor should have given you their office hours, and you should assume that it’s during that time they’ll read and respond to your query.
“Email has changed the relationship between instructors and students,” Professor A says. “Professors have lives, families; but some students think you are there on demand. They expect that you are always available. Of course, this is not just students, it’s the culture.”
YOUR DAD IS NOT THE STUDENT, YOU ARE.
You didn’t get into the class you wanted. Maybe the grade you received was not what you were expecting.
If you want to contest your instructor’s decision, YOU need to be your own advocate. Despite how many moms and dads have tried, no professor on earth is impressed by a parent intervening on behalf of their college-aged kid.
FACEBOOK IS FOR AFTER GRADUATION
“I will not accept invites from students,” Professor A. “But I do like to keep in touch with them once they graduate and Facebook is a great way to do that.” So save that friend request for graduation day.
You don’t have to be teacher’s pet – but getting on your prof’s good side early is never a bad thing.