As a college instructor, I have developed a vast network of other instructors and professors from community colleges and universities; also, I love reading those Reader’s Digest lists such as “10 Things Your (insert profession here) Won’t Tell You.”
So, I decided recently to take an anonymous poll (Thank goodness for SurveyMonkey!) of my friends and trusted colleagues in order to create my own “
10 8 Things” list. I wanted the juiciest, most scandalous tidbits, and they delivered — so much so that I didn’t feel comfortable posting some.
Here are the results:
1. Bribes are more effective than you might think.
One professor told me, “I had a female student who never showed up to class or did the homework. Toward the end of the semester, she decided to visit friends in San Diego. I was so ready to fail her… until she came back and presented me with a souvenir: a combination snow globe and letter opener. It was pretty cool. Because of that, I ended up passing her with a C.”
2. We will pass you to get rid of you.
Some students are just pains in the butt. “If a student is constantly challenging her grades throughout the semester or taking up office hours every week to ask for extra credit, I pass them even if they deserve a D. I don’t want to risk the chance of having the same student the following semester,” mentioned one history instructor.
3. Male professors give special attention to females.
About 80% of male professors who responded said that they favor female students to male students (duh). One instructor stated, “If a male student asks me if he can make up an online quiz, I will refer him to the rules in the syllabus [that say ‘no’]. If a female student asks me the same question, I will more than likely say yes.”
So, young ladies, turn on that charm the next time you need something. You’ll likely get what you want.
4. We can and will find loopholes to make your lives miserable.
Just like (allegedly) a cop can find an obscure infraction if he wants to give you a ticket, professors can find ways to penalize students they, um… just plain ol’ don’t like. Ms. R in Oklahoma wrote, “When there’s a student who rubs me the wrong way, I create homework assignments that I know he won’t complete. Little by little, these small scores add up to where he ends up failing the course.”
Quite a few instructors, including this one, give five-point pop quizzes at the very beginning of class to penalize habitually tardy students. Because we can.
5. Online classes are easy because we generally don’t care.
Many professors teach extra-service courses online to supplement their modest income. Thus, the online course becomes low priority in addition to their regular course loads. One colleague had this to say: “I teach online at a different college. I assign two research papers and one exam, none of which I actually grade. I give out A’s and B’s randomly.”
Another professor teaches online every summer for extra cash. This past July, he “graded” (i.e. skimmed through) the assignments while sitting at an outdoor café in Italy.
Oh, and the real reason online instructors don’t immediately reply to your emails? “We just don’t give a d**n.”
6. If you offend our views, we will ‘not like you.’
Students: Don’t openly voice your religious or political views in class. Yes, it’s a free country, but the professor is the dictator in his/her own class. “One time a minority student told all of us [in class] that she hated anyone who was dumb enough to vote for [George W.] Bush,” said one professor in Texas. He applied #4 above and gave the young woman a D for the course.
Reason? The professor was a closet Republican.
Sure, you’re entitled to your opinion; you might end up on the professor’s naughty list, though.
7. We know if you’re a good student or just a kiss-up.
We college and university instructors/professors are not stupid. We can tell the difference between a hard-working overachiever and a teacher’s-pet-over-complementing-manipulator.
If you’re the latter, we might even play along.
You just might be in for a surprise when final grades are posted.
8. We don’t like grading any more than you like studying.
Most of the time, our departments force us to include final projects and term papers in our syllabi so that all of the course sections are in sync. Therefore, we have to devote lots of time to grading students’ work (imagine that).
A psychology instructor in California said that a student will earn a failing grade on a term paper only if he/she turns nothing in. “I count the number of papers turned in and the number of students I have, then go from there.”
Another professor: “I usually give students full credit if they merely attempt the final project in English literature. This includes pages of meaningless fluff. Actually, I don’t even know it’s fluff half the time because I don’t read the whole things.”