Thursday, February 17, 2011

Advice to Students From A Real College Professor, Part II

6. There is this thing called a syllabus that usually is a veritable fount of useful information. You can often find answers to many of your questions right inside it. Aside from the syllabus, the title of the course can be a good indication of what to expect from said course. If you are taking Advanced Spanish Conversation, it probably means that there will be quite a lot of conversation. In Spanish. At a fairly advanced level. If you are "not into talking but more. . .like into writing and stuff", maybe it makes more sense to take Advanced Spanish Composition.

7. If you are mystified by the readings and don't understand a single word that is being said during the lectures, it might make sense to inform the professor about this during the semester and not five minutes before the final exam. There is nothing even the best professor in the world can do to help you succeed in the course after you have failed every single assignment.

8. Bombarding your teacher with e-mails after 11 pm and expecting an immediate response is usually a waste of time. Do you really need to receive an email telling you what the homework is? Or might that information be gleaned from the syllabus?

9. Don't be fake. Gushing about how much you love the course and how much you are learning from it is worth a lot less than showing your interest in it by the quality and quantity of work you do in the course.

10. Classes are not for catching up on your sleep. If you are so sleepy that you just can't keep yourself awake, stay at home. I'd much rather have people not show up to class than sit there snoring in my face.

And if you want to be a truly spectacular student that everybody is dying to have in their classroom, here is what you might want to consider:

1. Work on your vocabulary. Whenever you encounter a word you don't know (either in your readings or in the lectures), find out what it means and try to learn it. Everybody loves a student with a good, rich vocabulary.

2. Ask questions. Intelligent questions that show your interest in the course material are always welcome in class and during office hours.

3. In the courses you really like (especially in your Major), do more than what is required for class. Ask the professor what extra readings you might do, bug your teachers with questions, show that you are interested in learning. No opportunity to enrich yourself intellectually should be wasted.

And remember: learning is supposed to be fun even when it's extremely hard.


Lindsay said...

About #6 --- do you get lots and lots of questions that are answered on the syllabus or something?

On the first day of class, my professors always read the syllabus aloud. This mystified me, because I thought college was supposed to be the place where your teachers *stopped* holding your hand and walking you through every little thing.

After a while I came to suspect that these professors were just trying to protect themselves from being inundated with dumb questions from students who couldn't be bothered to read the syllabus.

Clarissa said...

You have no idea. I dedicate the first class session in its entirety to talking about the syllabus. And I do it in English even if a course is Advanced Spanish lit. My syllabi are extremely detailed and very easy to understand. And I do all that only then to get asked, "Oh, so there is a final exam???" yes, it is only mentioned in 3 separate places of the syllabus and I discussed it in class. So, yes, there is a final exam.

And so on.

Or the question about the office hours that gets repeated at least once a week. The office hours are listen on the very first page of the syllabus. At the top of the page. Right under my name. In bold type. And still the questions pour in.