Having to deal with a university professor giving you a tough time seems like a rite of passage, doesn’t it? Sort through the difficult ones, and make your way to the top professors’ classes. That’s the norm in some campuses, isn’t it?
Sometimes ending up in a situation like this is just unavoidable: we shoot past the course drop period and by the time we fully understand that our professor really is a dud and ‘all up in your business’ for no good reason, it’s too late. Then there are times, when we end up taking a course that only a select few professors are teaching, and you just can’t avoid them.
However, a bad professor can ruin your pace and scope of learning at university and it’s important to know how to spot one from a mile away. Here’s a quick identification list of ‘difficult’ professors you might end up with and how to best deal with them.
The Sir Assigns a Lot Type
This type is very popular on some campuses: a professor who’s made it his lifetime objective to assign repetitive tasks and assignments rather than a few meaningful projects that actually aid in student development and complement the over academic experience.
Find yourself in the same spot every week doing a different version of the same assignment? Working feverishly each week and receiving no feedback? Bingo! You’re dealing with Sir Assigns a Lot.
This type can be tough to deal with as they expect you to go the distance, no questions asked. Now here’s the more difficult part you’ll need to bear with: the assignments might seem dumb, but don’t give anything less than all your firepower; they’re going to count towards your final grade.
Consult campus tutors and other professors to ask them if this many assignments are really necessary to make the grade. If they feel anything that’s a bit off, you’ll probably be one of two people who’ll know soon enough!
The “His Explaining Just Sucks” Type
Here’s how to spot the bad explainer: you start to notice the professor is using “roundabout” methods of explaining things whereas there could have been a more direct and straightforward way to explain it as well. Their lectures are usually disorganized and they fail to highlight key terms.
If over 70% of the class has trouble following what they’re saying or their reasoning methods, know that it’s not just you. These types of professors like to see themselves as highly intelligent beings and assume that just because they’ve grasped a certain concept, their students should do so as well.
Here’s what you need to do: have specific questions ready when you meet the professor for his/her office hours. Are they in the habit of ditching office hours? You need to be proactive. Email your professor or better yet approach them and ask to schedule a slot that’s convenient for you both, to discuss class issues.
If this doesn’t resolve anything, you can visit a tutor and ask them to explain the same thing, and see if that clicks. Here’s an even better idea: many students work as tutors who have already taken a specific course. Find the ones who were also in the “bad explaining” professor’s class. If that tutor had a better streak, then you might as well ask them to help you through it.
Now That’s Just Rude!
This is another common type, who might be very good as a course tutor but fails miserably when it comes to establishing meaningful connections with students. The rude professor is constantly cutting students off and tends to say inappropriate non-subject related things throughout the session.
This type also includes those who seem to have made it part of their job description to make their students feel beneath them. They get distracted easily, and if you notice them constantly fidgeting or checking their phone, that’s a surefire sign.
This is where you need to take a stand. If you ever feel a professor has crossed the line with inappropriate gestures, actions or speech – making personal attacks or remarks, saying something politically incorrect etc – do not turn the other cheek. Report them to the campus’ administration right away. This is the best way to make sure things don’t get out of hand later, since anything you might do on your own can be used against you.
You deserve to be respected as an individual, not just a student; inform the department’s dean to make sure such negative experiences do not arise in future.
However, it it’s the little things like a professor rolling their eyes at your response, or making a comment or two about your late arrival, you need to be too concerned. This reaction may not be the most gratifying, but remember, it’s the professor who’s in charge and your behavior and/or reaction may have a direct impact on your grades and future academic prowess.