That grade you got on your exam must be a sign mandated from the heavens above that your instructor clearly loathes you with every fiber of his being, right? Sure, it might be the fact that you didn’t study for the exam in the first place, but really it’s because your professor hates you. Why else would professors offer their phone numbers, emails, office hours and outside help to you, if they don’t despise every breath you emit?
Contrary to popular belief, your instructors are actually on your side. But, unfortunately, they don’t have to love you unconditionally like your mom does. Being late all the time is no longer a cute offense laughed off with a “like mother, like daughter” shrug. Making a good impression and building a solid foundation for a relationship are as important as accepting Netflix as your personal lord and savior. To help you make a better impression than Adrien Brody at the 75th Academy Awards, I went to the enemies themselves and their evil minions for some words of wisdom.
Syllabi Are Actually Important
Do you honestly think you’ll get on your instructor’s good side if you don’t read the measly two page packet she gives you on the first day of class? University of Florida graduate instructor Mary Roca said, “I’m always happy to help students, but I’m not impressed when a student asks me a question that I’ve already answered in the syllabus.” We get it, you have five syllabi to digest by the end of your first day, but giving the syllabus a good read shows that you are taking the course seriously. It will also give you a leg up on your lazy classmates who don’t have a good understanding of how the professor runs the class. Besides, you’re going to be doing a lot more reading in the upcoming semester, so it’s good practice.
Class is more than “A” Grade
We all face the dreaded gen ed class with the professor whose voice sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown (Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa!). But even all of that tragedy shouldn’t stop you from gaining valuable knowledge from the course. UF associate professor Jason Meneely said, “College is not a consumer product, it is an opportunity. An opportunity not to fill your head with information and get graded on spitting it back out, but an opportunity to push yourself and grow beyond getting the ‘A.’” Take the reins and make an effort to learn something from the class, even if it isn’t a course for your major or all that interesting.
All Classes are Created Equal
Don’t be surprised, but your professors do have feelings. “Students think they are being polite by asking to leave early to, for example, take a make-up exam for another class, but what you’re telling the instructor is that their class isn’t as important as another class,” said Roca. You may not consider your “The Good Life” class to be your biggest priority, but your professor does. Show some courtesy to professors by treating every class as mandatory. No make-up exam, dentist appointment or hangover is as important.
Office Hours aren’t just review sessions
Whoever tells you office hours are unnecessary needs to be shot…with common sense. In office hours, your professor’s main concern is you and only you–not what the girl next to you is texting to her friend three seats down. Do not, however, behave like the rest of your peers and save all your questions for exam day. UF teaching assistant Angela Walther said, “I find many students don’t take advantage of office hours until a major assignment is due or until the end of the semester when they realize their grade is not ideal.” Instead, gain VIP status by regularly attending the office hours of professors who are killing their free time by spinning around in their chairs. Trust me, your instructor is dying to help you with that pesky source for your critical research paper.
Conversations should be adult to adult
Your professor isn’t going to hold your hand or remind you to turn in your homework on time. “I’m happy to make any accommodations a student needs as long as they talk to me about it beforehand. I want all of my students to do well in the class, but I also want them to learn how to be responsible for themselves and their work,” said Roca. You are an adult now, and the best and scariest thing about your instructors is that they will treat you like it.
Honesty is always the best policy
Surprise! The “My dog ate my homework” excuse isn’t your professor’s favorite line. “I am not impressed by students who are full of excuses. Own your mistakes and grow from them. Students who are honest with themselves about their strengths and shortcomings are in the best position to grow and change,” Meneely said. College is the time to flourish in your independence but remember, as our friendly superhero Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this case, with great freedom comes deadlines, appointments and 10-page essays.
Professors aren’t heartless
If your professor addresses you as Andrew instead of Andrea in an email, you may find yourself wondering if he even cares about you, and that’s frustrating. But you’re not alone. “I am frustrated by the myth that professors and teachers do not care about their students,” said Roca. Consider your relationship like the Karate Kid. You are the Daniel to his Miyagi. Of course professors care about you. Why else would they think up all those clever syllabi, assignments and PowerPoints, come to class, teach you and then grade all the papers you wrote at 3 a.m. the night before?