Not So Hot For Teacher: How to Deal with a Difficult Professor

By Amanda C Starling on March 7, 2013

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When registering for classes, most of us have used the advice of our peers or websites such as to help us choose our classes. Unfortunately once you’re past the associate level of your degree, often times we have very little choice in which professors to take. Many times we need a specific course that does not offer a variety of classes on the schedule. Sometimes we are forced to take a class with a less than desirable professor due to scheduling conflicts or lack of classes offered. This is especially true for PEL (Program for Experienced Learners) students.

If you’re unable to avoid a class with a professor that you’ve heard is difficult, don’t agonize over it. Remember that all students are not alike. What may have been a horrible class for others could turn out to be the best class for you. Just because a handful of students on a rating website (or your friends) have a problem with a professor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in the wrong hands. There is a chance that those particular students are looking for an easy A and/or don’t appreciate being challenged in their classes.

Be the judge yourself and give the professor a chance. Some of the toughest professors have been the ones that I’ve learned the most from. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had professors before who were truly difficult and not in the way of challenging their students to produce their finest work. I mean the type of professors who have their way of teaching and if their students don’t understand the material, tough. Luckily, I haven’t personally run into this at Eckerd College.

The best way to deal with a difficult professor:

  • Always demonstrate punctuality. Get to class early, arrive back from breaks on time, and stay for the entire class. Also, watch your attendance closely and try not to miss classes.
  • Stay focused during class. Listen and take notes.
  • Don’t fall behind on assignments (in class or out of class).
  • Ask questions. If there’s something you’re missing, request a conference with the professor.
  • If you’re doing everything possible to succeed in the class and you’re still getting nowhere, don’t be afraid to speak to your Academic Advisor about it.

­­­­Having a difficult professor is tough, but there are ways to avoid conflict and keep your grades up.

Amanda Starling is a Creative Writing Major / Film Minor in the PEL Program at Eckerd College. When not working or studying, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

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