How to Deal With a Difficult College Professor
The transition from high school to college can be difficult for a whole number of reasons. You have to manage your life without parental support for probably the first time ever. While you’re sure to keep in touch with friends and family, you’re now surrounded by strangers who don’t share that mutual history of years spent together in the same town. You’re experiencing an entirely different workload, and the complexities of balancing classes with social life. If you have a tough college professor, all of these transitions can become quite painful. Some professors are naturally gifted at connecting with students. Others are geniuses in their field, but are tough to understand or get along with in a classroom setting. It’s impractical to expect the professor to change, as they’ve been doing it for decades and achieved a great deal of success that way. You’re going to have to shift your approach unless you want to face a semester of misery. Here are a couple of tips to help you deal with a difficult college professor.
First off, face your problem head on by sitting in the front row during class. If your problem stems from difficulty understanding the professor, sitting in front will remove all other distractions and force you to buckle down. If your issues have to do with personal problems, or a feeling that the professor just doesn’t like you, by sitting in front you’ll give the professor a second chance to connect with you. You’ll prove you are serious about the work, and eye contact is always a great way to create a positive relationship.
Try your best to stand out from the pack in the right ways. Interacting during class shows the professor that someone in that vast lecture hall is listening, and actually cares about what he’s teaching. Regularly answer questions, or find reasons to ask your own. You don’t have to overdo it, and you certainly don’t want to come across as trying too hard. But raising your hand once a class will insure that you stay in the professor’s good graces. If you’re shy about speaking in public, ask the professor for extra assignments as ways to earn additional credit. Regardless of how frosty your relationship, this will prove to the professor that education is your primary focus, and that will certainly earn you a second look.
If you’ve tried the above and still find the relationship incredibly difficult, you might need to be more proactive. Request a meeting with the professor during office hours, and use it to talk through your conflicts. Addressing the situation in private will help you get an honest answer, and give you a platform to air your grievances. Hopefully this will resolve things, but even this isn’t meant to be.
When talking it out doesn’t work, and you’re left with the feeling this professor is simply out to get you, it’s time to dig deeper. Do some research to try and find out if other students have complained about him or her. Anything significant should be noted in school records and professor evaluations. You might need to reach out to your student counselor for access to that information. If you haven’t found anything, request a meeting with the dean of that faculty department. You’re stepping up a level to file your complaint, and if it goes wrong it can sour your situation even more. But this may be the only way to find relief. In these cases, you’ll need to present written notes that reference dates when specific issues occurred as evidence. If you go this route and are pushed aside, you’re pretty much nearing the end of your options. You can either pursue that master of public administration online, or transfer to another professor’s class and simply be done with it. After all, you’re paying that expensive tuition and you deserve to have the experience you want.