5 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Professor

It’s going to happen at some point.  In high school, you had teachers you hated, in college you’ll have professors you hate, and when you graduate, you’ll have bosses you hate.  Even Harry Potter had to deal with it.  Maybe it has something to do with resenting people with “power” over you, or maybe it just has to do with them being jerks.  Nevertheless, it’s a situation you’ll be put in.

“I’ve never had a student that deserved an A,” said my English 101 professor, on the first day of class, my freshman year.

She was rude, she was condescending, she refused to help her student out, and she had an absolutely impossible grading rubric.

But I was still determined to be the first to get an A. I breezed through all of my English classes my entire school career.  I even passed all of my spelling pre-tests in elementary school and didn’t have to take the real tests on Friday.  How could I NOT get an A in English 101?  I did everything I could to get into this teacher’s good graces.  So what should you do in this situation?

Do your research.  First off, before you register for their class, check Rate My Professor. This professor I mentioned above had five pages worth of reviews, but not one good one.  If I had known this ahead of time, I would have completely steered clear of her.  This is the most reliable place on the internet to read other student’s consensus of your professors.  Any teacher that says not to rely on this site for reviews, probably has a lot of terrible reviews.

Be on your best behavior.  Show up to class on time and don’t leave early.  Don’t ask for extensions.  Don’t be on your cell phone in class, and don’t chit chat with the person next to you.  Think of this class as boot camp.  Don’t do anything a drill sergeant wouldn’t approve of.

Make a point to visit during office hours.   Professors love when students make an effort to drop by their office.  Don’t be so intimidated by this professor that you avoid talking to them.  Making a point to discuss the material with the professor might actually give them the impression that you’re genuinely interested in the material, and you’ll stand out to them.

But don’t be one of “those” people.  Don’t deliberately kiss their butt.  Answering every question, showing up other students, continuously asking for extra credit, et cetera.  This is a charade that professors can see through, and I’m sure it annoys them just as much as it annoys your classmates.

Keep all of your assignments.  When you get a paper back, thoroughly look over what you were marked down on.  If you believe it seems out of line, ask the teacher what you did wrong, and what you could have done better.  Also, save all of your assignments until the end of the semester and calculate your grade yourself.  If you didn’t get as high of a grade as you calculated, discuss it with your professor.

Drop the class.  This is a last resort.  And even then, I don’t particularly recommend it.  Don’t let a rude professor have that power.  But if you’re convinced that even though you’re working your hardest, did everything listed above, and you still aren’t pulling off the grade you feel you deserve, it might be best to just retake the class with a better teacher.

Hopefully, all of these things help you pull off an A in your difficult teacher’s class.  Unfortunately, sometimes they’re just jerks and nothing you do will change that.  Snape never liked Harry.  I left the class with a B, knowing that I tried my best.  And sometimes that’s all that you can do.

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.