An Open Letter to Bad Professors

photo1024x682Dear Bad Professors,

It takes a lot of time and energy to be a teacher. Students understand. You take time out of your day to pass on your “words of wisdom” and “undeniable truths.” Semester after semester of syllabi, new textbooks, new classrooms – it gets exhausting. And we understand that you have the upper hand. You have rights.

Surely by performing such a gracious act as passing on your worldly knowledge to your potential successors, you have earned the right to teach the subject how you please, not stopping for one (or a hundred) confused students. Surely by grading an infinite amount of papers without stopping you have the right to slap a C by default on a student’s carefully constructed essay, simply because you’re tired and he used a verb in the wrong context.

Wrong. 

College is a funny thing. As 18-year-olds, students choose to leave home to better themselves by attending an expensive, exhausting and optional academic institution. Yet every semester, without fail, we waste thousands of dollars on at least one three-credit class taught by a professor that 1) expects seasoned scholars instead of inexperienced undergrads or 2) doesn’t care either way.

Usually, there is mutual respect between students and professors. But what happens when our professors don’t give a rat’s hat whether or not they’re actually teaching the material in a meaningful way? Should we show you the same courtesy? That doesn’t seem to be very beneficial for either party.

“The biggest struggles I’ve had are how the professors teach. One of my professors has quizzes where one answer is ‘more right’ than the other,” says senior Ashley Tidd.

Why make the correct subject matter clear when you can teach concepts that are “kind of” right?

“My other 100-level class professor assigns a book a week to read like it’s a 400-level class. Another 100-level professor makes an A grade minimum 95%, as opposed to the traditional 93%. And he grades harder than any 400-level class I’ve had,” adds Tidd.

I get that college professors have way more freedom than grade-school teachers. That’s fine – everyone has a different teaching style. But there’s a line between educational freedom and setting up students for unnecessary struggle, not to mention potential failure.

Maybe worse than professors making the material overly difficult are the ones who don’t even care at all.

“Being a science major, I realized a lot of my professors are only teaching because they have to in order to do their research at Penn State. I think it’s really clear when a professor wants to be there and when they don’t.” says freshman Kailey Yocca.

There’s nothing better than a professor that would rather be in bed sleeping just as much as the party boy with a Friday morning hangover. The class motto might as well be “get in, get out, and if you don’t get it – get over yourself.”

“Last semester, I hated one of my classes because my professor didn’t like to teach and made us feel like we weren’t worth her time. I had another professor that would simply respond with ‘Well then, I don’t know what to say’ if we didn’t understand the lesson,” says Yocca.

Bad professors, throw us a bone here. Believe or not, we’re here because we chose to be. Sure, there are a lot of kids who give little effort. But there are also a lot of kids who want to do their best and succeed. And that’s hard to do without you doing your job – teaching.

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