Professors are not the bad guys

It’s that time of year again. Papers need to be finished. Presentations need to be given. Quizzes need to be taken. The end of the semester comes with a lot of work and a lot of stress.

As I walk around campus and talk with friends, I hear a common complaint, “Do professors understand I have other classes I need to get things done in?”

It seems many students believe their professors do not think they have three or four other classes with professors requesting just as much, if not more, work and time. And I admit I also have to wonder if some professors really understand this.

When they have three papers, a couple of presentations and a quiz, students tend to go into panic mode. How will I get it all done? Will I fail if I don’t put as much effort in? Does the teacher understand all I have to do?

It’s a lot to handle especially when you have other things going on in your personal life, such as a job on top of everything. So I decided to go on a mission. I made a couple of calls around campus to see what professors had to say.

As it turns out, professors are not out to get students — at least not the ones I talked to — and they ensured me it is the same for most other professors as well.

“I was in their (students’) shoes once, too,” accounting lecturer Charlie Thomas said.

He said he understands students have big loads, especially the final weeks of a semester.

“I know my class doesn’t occur in a vacuum,” assistant professor of chemistry Craig McLauchlan said.

McLauchlan even added that his department tries to work with the biology and physics departments to avoid students having to take tests on the same day. While it does not always work, McLauchlan said they do what they can so students do not have more than one difficult test on the same day.

It was somewhat shocking to hear, and I hung up the phone with a dumbfounded feeling. These “mean, scary” professors who teach difficult classes and are “out to get us” actually recognize the workload students have?

“We can’t just take you out and say ‘sink or swim,'” marketing professor Linda Showers said. She said it is not fair when instructors give out big assignments in the last few weeks of classes. Professors have to structure the class in a way to help, Showers added.

But while professors do understand more than we give them credit for, I also learned they could be just as frustrated with students as we are with them.

Showers said she gets frustrated when students say they are having trouble completing projects or papers that have been on the syllabus since the beginning of the semester and have been discussed well in advance.

McLauchlan said he tries to set guidelines early for assignments, but sometimes there are still those students who ask for an extension.

Assistant professor of chemistry William Hunter said students needed to manage their time and priorities.

“That’s the same with me right now,” he said. “We are all busy.”

But let’s face it; there are just some of those professors who do not explain a big project until last minute, leaving students panicked and cursing their education.

This is where Hunter reminded me of a very valid point — “the learning is in (students’) own hands.”

One of the best things students often forget is they can is talk with their professor(s). They will often have useful suggestions.

“A good nights sleep and a positive attitude go a long way,” McLauchlan said. The more sleep you have, the more efficient you will be,” he continued, “but don’t forget there is still going to be some hard work involved.

“Work on [things] continuously, so it is not a last minute thing,” Showers said. When it is on the syllabus, try to get things started early. Stress happens when students cram things into the end of the semester. Ask yourself, ‘do you like the way you are feeling right now?'” Hunter said.

While it may not help you right now, Hunter said it should help prepare students for next semester.

Gina McKay, The Daily Vidette, Illinois State University.