Whether you experienced it early on or late during your undergraduate career, everyone has endured the reality of a professor’s dislike. And while this seems to be a budding trend for students to encounter uneasy relations with a professor, there are a few key tricks to rising above the situation.
For Brianna Fletcher, a senior majoring in journalism and communications at Northeastern University, math is a major weakness.
“My professor knows I struggle and he asks me questions on purpose. He’s always looking hard at my work just to tell me it is wrong,” she said.
Fletcher sought help from her professor to no avail and eventually turned to a campus tutor.
She said, “It’s all about my A-game. I will know the answers now when he calls on me.”
Fletcher encourages students to utilize resource centers on campus because it worked for her.
“I won’t give him anymore ammunition to be rude and not help me,” she added.
Chance Craig, a Brown University sophomore studying public policy and American institutions, has felt similar ill feelings from a teacher’s assistant. For starters, as the only African-American student in the course, he said the attention of a Caucasian professor was rather easy.
“You are constantly called on to speak on behalf of your race but ignored when you have insightful comments relevant to the discussion at hand that does not pertain to Black issues,” he added.
To make matters worse, Craig said the TA practically disregarded all his contributions to class discussions. He said earning respect from all parties was a battle he fought every day and soon grew too nervous to participate.
Upon reflection, he firmly believes confidence would have solved the issue or at least restrained the growing peonage.
“One must be confident in their own intellects,” he said. “I firmly believe that my experiences were a result of me accepting the subjugation indirectly forced upon me by my TA and my fellow students.”
Dr. Julie O'Connell, chairperson of developmental English Studies at Felician College encourages activism.
“Perhaps you should go to class, sit in the front, try to be involved by asking questions, take notes,” she said. “If you think (s)he is grading unfairly, go before the paper is due and ask what you can do—after the fact, ask what you did wrong. If something unfair is happening, go to another teacher that you trust to tell him or her about the situation.”
And if that doesn’t work?
She said, “Always try to speak directly with the person first before going over his or her head.”
Luckily for Kafui Fessi, a freshmen culinary student at Naugatuck Valley Community College, these uncomfortable professor-to-student relations have been nothing more than overheard myths.
“Everyone tells me that they like me,” he chuckled.
He explained that his relationships with professors are rather simple; for the most part he doesn’t speak with them outside of class.
Every class scenario is ambiguous; from the first day to the day final grades are posted. As students, it’s important to do your part. Whether that’s finding a tutor, possessing a spirit of confidence or keeping conversations to the very minimum, take control of the situation.
That’s the best you can do. Oh—and “realize that this too shall pass because it’s only one semester (thankfully),” added Dr. O’Connell.
Short story long? Cheer up.