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Help! I Can't Stand My Professor

How do you deal with them in a way that’s both respectful and still keeps you from losing your mind?

Mckenzie Nevins

February 13, 2015

Help! I Can't Stand My Professor
No matter how much you love your major, you’re bound to get a professor whom you don’t care much for at some point within your academic career. Whether it’s their teaching style, way of grading, or assignment load, less-than-great professors happen to all of us. Nevertheless, how do we deal with them in a way that’s both respectful and still keeps us from losing our minds?

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#1: Focus on the Positive Aspects

There’s something good about every class, even if you have to look really, really hard for it. It’s a fact of life that the more you focus on something; the more easily you’ll see it. Perhaps it’s the way the textbook is written, or the practicality of what you’re learning. It can even be something as simple as seeing friends whom you have the class with or the convenience of the location where it’s taught. Putting your focus on one or two good things will help you to focus on the positive and stop dwelling on your distaste for your professor.

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#2: Don’t Become a Gossip

Respect continues to be important, even with professors whom you don’t care for. The more you treat them with respect, the more you’ll truly come to believe that they’re worthy of it. And all professors (not to mention people) are worthy of respect.

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Talking to other friends out of class about how awful the class is or how unfair the professor seems to be doesn’t help anyone. It only breeds negativity and puts you – and everyone else around you – in a worse mood.
It also attacks the reputation of someone who in all likelihood is a very good person who is well-accomplished within their field. Regardless of how you may feel about their teaching style, they’re still your professor and, therefore, worthy of your respect.

#3: Get Help from Your Peers

Every professor wants different things – in their essays, on homework assignments, etc. If you’ve got one who’s particularly difficult to figure out, find someone who has had that professor before to help you. A student who has already been through what you’re going through is the perfect resource for figuring out how to write essays and such the way that your teacher wants them. Those aren’t exactly the kind of things you want to figure out through trial and error…

#4: Go Directly to the Source

Similar to getting help from another student, there’s nothing better than going straight to the source for help. Professors have office hours for a reason – to help students. It’s possible that if you attend the professor’s office hours, you will get to know them as an actual person, and become surprised at what you get to know. Professors often open up to students in one-one-one situations like this. It’s very important to them to see that you’re making an effort. Take a chance and try to keep an open mind, you never know, it may turn into a fruitful mentorship. Bonus: you may end up getting a much better grade in the class for the added effort. Professors often give bonus tips to students who attend office hours, which will help you to gain added insight into your professor’s teaching style.

#5: Professors are People, Too!

A friend told me this earlier in the semester, and it has helped me several times since. Try to see your professors as people and not just assignment-spitting machines. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially in a large class, but try to resist the urge. Unless you live next door to this professor, chances are that you don’t really know them personally (look at tip number four for help with this, though). Try to change your view and see them as a real person with a family, friends, and a life just like you have. This may help you to keep from disliking the person, even if you still loathe the way they teach. Professors are far from perfect because – (spoiler alert!) – they’re human, just like us. Give them a break and keep trying to be the best possible student that you can be.

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