college professor

college professor

How to Talk to Your Professor About Raising Your Grade

Want to talk to your professor about your grade but not sure how? Your instructor won’t ask you if you’re unhappy with your grade. If you’re not pleased with your performance in class, it’s up to you to set up a time to talk with your professor.

Here are 4 tips on how to conquer that grueling conversation:

Calculate your grade and compare it to the professor’s calculation before you speak to him or her. You can look at your syllabus to see how tests and homework are weighted. If you find a discrepancy in your grade, don’t get angry with your instructor. Politely let your teacher know that you figured a different grade, and ask if there might be something missing from the grade book.

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Dishonesty on Teacher Evaluations a Serious Issue

According to a study authored by a pair of marketing professors, students are prone to stretching the truth on teacher evaluations.

About a third of the students surveyed admitted to stretching the truth at one point, and 20% said they lied in the comments section. While some did it to make teachers they liked look good, a majority did it to punish those they didn’t like.

As a former adjunct professor, this is an issue that concerns me a lot, so I’d really like to understand what’s going on with this lying. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section and I will respond to them.

First, I’ll address the main issue: Especially for adjuncts and part-time professors, teaching evaluations are the main way we’re evaluated by our superiors. A bunch of bad evaluations means we won’t keep our jobs.

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How to Ask For an Extension on Your Paper

Uh-oh—there’s a 15 page paper due next week, and you haven’t even started it. And you have another paper due right around the same, and a test, and a job, and a life, and… oh my goodness, what are you going to do? Should you ask your professor for an extension?

Realistically, the answer to this question is usually NO, unless you have a really good reason. Professors don’t want to hear that you have papers due in other classes (unless one of them is a thesis or something really huge). They’ll tell you that you should have budgeted your time better, and ask why you came to her for an extension as opposed to the professor in the class with the other paper?

This may sound mean, but professors are busy people who don’t have time to read papers that are coming in at any given time. And learning how to meet deadlines really is crucially important. You’ll be doomed in the workforce if you don’t learn this skill now. So yes, it’s tough love.

So if you have to ask for a deadline, you’ve got a difficult task. Here are some tips that might make this task easier.

  1. Ask ahead of time. If you come to your teacher a month before your assignment is due and ask for an extension because you know you’re going to be overwhelmed, this conveys professionalism and maturity. Your professor just might budge.
  2. Let your professor know early on about possible conflicts. If there’s a reason you’re going to have trouble meeting deadlines–like childcare issues, or a learning disability, or an illness– let the professor know at the beginning of the semester. Again, this conveys professionalism.
  3. Be a good student. Student A is a slacker who comes about once every two weeks, text messages during class, never participates, and got a D on the midterm. Student B is the opposite. So which student do you think is more likely to get an extension?

  4. Ask nicely. This may sound obvious, but as a former professor, trust me–this is a lesson many students do need to learn! And you are not entitled to an extension–no matter how much you are paying for college.
  5. No crying. Or whining. Or sob stories, unless you have a really big problem.

Adult Students: College Instructors Love You!

Nervous about returning to school because you’re afraid that the instructors won’t welcome you? Well, think again. In my experience as a professor, most college instructors are delighted about having nontraditional students in their classes. Oh, there are exceptions, of course. (Some professors just don’t like anyone, unfortunately.) But here are some reasons why many instructors—myself included, back in the days when I taught—adore nontraditional students.

First of all, adult students appreciate their education. They’re working hard to balance work, kids, and whatever else is going on in their lives, and they wouldn’t be in college if they didn’t know it was worth their time. With so many undergrads around who see college as a burden, or who are only in college because it’s “what you do” after high school, it’s refreshing to have students around who are delighted to have the opportunity to get an education.

Second of all, adult students are respectful. When I started teaching in my early twenties. I feared that nontraditional students wouldn’t take me seriously because I was younger than them. Not so. Adult students respected me because they knew I had something to teach that would be useful for their careers and lives. They understood how much I work I put into my teaching, and because they were hardworking professionals themselves, they appreciated this.

Instructors also like nontraditional students because they don’t play games. They don’t have time. There’s nothing teachers hate more than students who try to do as little work as they can to get by, or who whine and try to bargain for points and special exceptions. Most adult students are way past this kind of nonsense, especially because they’ve been in the working world for awhile and know it doesn’t work.

Finally, professors who teach discussion-oriented classes love nontraditional students because they bring such a diversity of experiences to the table. Many traditional students appreciate this as well, and feel they can learn from those experiences.

So, if you’re going back to school, don’t worry about whether you’re going to be welcome. Sure, not everyone will be eager to have you around, but that’s true in every situation. Most college instructors will be delighted to see you in class the first day.


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