Archive for the ‘Instructors’ Category

my angry professor graphicI frequently work with struggling students at the college, and many of them are having difficulty in one or more classes. When I meet new students for the first time, we discuss their classes and try to identify the root of their academic struggles. This helps me to come up with a game plan to improve his or her grades.

During the discussion, one thing i have heard many times is, “My professor hates me!”

Could it be true? Could a professor really hate a student?

The truth is, we are all flawed human beings, and it would be disingenuous for me to say it was impossible for this to happen. There certainly may be personality conflicts or relationships that get off on the wrong foot, which can create a less-than-perfect scenerio for the professor/student relationship.

If you are in a situation where you feel the professor does not like you, here are some tips for survival:

1. Don’t gossip about your professor! Nothing good that can come from this! If you absolutely need to vent, keep it within the circle of your closest confidants.

2. Don’t lose your temper in class. I remember being in a class where a professor was being incredibly hard on a particular student’s written work during the class discussion. The student didn’t take it well and began a heated debate with the instructor. Other students in the class were uncomfortable, nothing about the conversation helped the situation, and in the end, the student was kicked out of the class. As difficult as it is, take the high road and bite your tongue.

3. Don’t purposely bug your professor. I know… it is kind of like you have an itch that you want to scratch… but, it is a path to self-destruction and escalation.

Instead, here is what you DO:

1. Do start with a little self-examination. Has your attitude been good? Do you arrive at class on time? Have you been doing your work? Are you cooperative and helpful class? Do you pay attention (or do you text or otherwise goof off in class)? If you are behaving in ways that are distracting or are disrespectful, then the first thing you need to do is change yourself and your own attitude. Admit where you are wrong and fix it.

2. Do look at the BIG picture… Look at the impact it will have on  your academic progress. Is it early enough in the semester to drop the class and take something else? Or, can you take the same class with a different instructor? What impact will dropping a class have on your financial aid, your timely degree completion and other things?

3. Do talk to your professor in his or her office. Avoid being confrontational, but tell the professor your perception and see what kind of reaction  you get. If the professor really does not like you and admits it, you might be better off just dropping the class. If your professor denies it, and especially if he or she is apologetic, you may want to hang on to the class. Trust your gut.

4. Do your best. If you have to stay in the class, keep your nose clean, make it a priority to keep up with the work, and you may want to keep your mouth shut as much as possible, especially if you can see that your participation just annoys the professor. Document everything by keeping assignment sheets, your returned work, and any written feedback you receive from your professor.

5. Do try to stay positive (or fake that you are). A negative attitude, a scowl in class, or not completing work will only hurt yourself.

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Finals are next week, and the activity around my office has increased quite a bit. Some students are panicking because they have realized that the final will make or break the possibility of them passing the class. Others are doing well enough in the class, but lack confidence or suffer from test anxiety. We even have some students dissolving into tears during these last two weeks of school because of the stress. The most important thing these students can do, no matter which category they are in, is to begin preparing early in a systematic and thorough way.frustrated female student

Here is a good way to make sure you cover the material in a thorough way:

Begin by seeing how many days you have available to study before your final. Now subtract one from that total, and that gives you the number of days you will work on your finals preparation. So, let’s say you have 7 days before your first final. So begin by subtracting 1, which leaves 6 days. Now divide your test material into 6 parts. Over the next 6 days you will prepare and study the material. On the first day, prepare study material for Part 1.  This might mean making flash cards, organizing charts, creating a self-test, etc. On day 2, you will prepare study materials for Part 2 and study the materials you created for Part 1. One day 3, you will prepare Part 3 and study Parts 1 and 2. Continue on until you have completed all 6 days. On the 7th day, you will review ALL 6 PARTS! Each day, this should only take you an hour or two, depending on how much material you have to cover. Once you have completed this study method, you will be well prepared for your exam and can go into the classroom with confidence.

If you have several exams for the week, you will create this type of schedule for each exam you will be taking. Just adjust the number of days according to the time you have left to study.  

Let me know how your finals go and good luck!

What I’m going to say may go against the advice you receive from your college adviser.  Most of us are guided to put together a class schedule similar to the way we would put together a puzzle. “Let’s see… I need a class that will fit in this time frame, and I also need something that meets this requirement…. Hey, this one works!” And, so….you’re in!

Can I recommend a different strategy? Long before the enrollment period begins, ask your classmates a lot of questions about the classes they are taking. And I’m not taking about asking “Do you like Dr. Doright?” That is a purely subjective question that will tell you nothing.  Instead ask, “What is it you do or don’t like about his classes?”  This will help you evaluate better whether the instructor will be a good fit for you and your learning style. Find out if the instructor requires a lot of writing, or if the tests are multiple choice, essay, or whatever.  Ask about the types of assignments, the structure of lectures, whether a teaching assistant grades tests, or whatever is important to you, as a student. The more you learn about the professors and the experiences other students are having with them, the more likely you will find the best professors on campus.

Don’t you want to get the biggest “bang” for your educational bucks? Believe it or not, the few years you spend in college will be over before you know it, and you want to be donning the cap and gown knowing that it truly represents what you came there to receive. You should be ending your college career knowing that you have gained usable knowledge and developed necessary skills for your chosen field. If you don’t end up with that, you have wasted a lot of time and money.