Colleges and universities are populated with all kinds of people, including all kinds of professors. This means that sooner or later, you’re likely to have to study under an impossible professor. These professors can run the gambit from mean to incompetent, from difficult to intimidating, but in general, regardless of the kind of bad professor you have, the same kind of approach will work in dealing with them all. If it’s too late to drop the class and you’re stuck working with a difficult professor, here’s what you can do to escape with your grades and sanity intact:
Show That You Are Doing the Work
If you have a bad professor, one of the first things you need to do is show that you are doing the work. This means showing up for class, paying attention, turning homework in in time, and being an engaged student. It may be difficult to do, especially if you’re afraid of a professor, but making it clear that you’re a dedicated student is less likely to put you on the professor’s bad list. It will also help you if you need to talk to your professor about trouble you’re having learning the material.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Professors who bully students do it because it gives them a sense of power. If you act afraid of your professor, you’re likely to remain a target for bullying. Instead, remain calm, cool, and collected. Prepare for class and ignore any bullying your professor does.
Many college students fall into the trap of being disrespectful toward their professors simply because their professors are disrespectful toward them. This is a losing strategy. It’s more likely to put you on the professor’s enemy list and will make it nearly impossible to get extra help if you need it.
If your professor is unfair, incompetent, or a bully, your grade may suffer no matter how hard you work. Thus it’s important to keep careful records of what goes on in class.This will help you if you have to appeal your grade at the end of the semester because you believe your grade was unfair.
Meet With Your Professor
Regardless of the specific problem you have with your professor, showing up to your professor’s office hours and taking an active interest in the material will almost always work out in your favor. A bully may turn out to be quite nice outside of class, and an incompetent professor may be better at teaching you one on one.
Network With Other Students
If you’re not learning the material well from your professor, it’s time to band together with other students into a study group. Other students may be better able to explain the material. Moreover, if your professor is truly awful, getting a group together to go to the dean may be far more effective than going by yourself.
Report Terrible Behavior
If your professor humiliates students publicly, reveals student grades, makes racist slurs, or sexually harasses students, it’s time to go to the dean, because this is serious behavior that can harm students and get your professor fired. It’s always better to go to the dean in a group, but if you can’t do this, you should still report the behavior. You have a responsibility to ensure that your bad professor doesn’t continue harming students and their grades next semester or next year!