Procrastination (#79)

It’s not just students who procrastinate. Why do instructors preach deadlines, planning, and “just do it” when they don’t always perform to the same standard?

I think it’s disrespectful for students to ignore deadlines and then ask for special consideration or extra credit work to make up for any penalties they receive for late work. Most assignments are created to teach specific concepts or skills, and extra credit work only adds more work – for both the student and instructor. There is no corresponding extra learning.

It adds more work for the instructor to give special consideration as well, whether that means grading student work individually at a later time instead of as a batch at the deadline. Late assignments also have to be tracked separately, and often extra help must be given when the students either forget or never heard the full explanation.

Instructors are not exempt from being disrespectful through procrastination either. If students are expected to get their work in on time, then instructors should have it graded and ready to return within a reasonable time as well.

Students need feedback to learn whether they did an assignment well, and what should be improved. Their next assignment could depend on it. They need specific guidance to learn the right way – or a better way – to meet expectations. More on that specific guidance in a later post, but let’s make sure that instructors avoid the procrastination habit too.


Student Success Strategy #68: Drink up

Should professors allow students to bring food and drinks into the classroom?

Some institutions have rules against this, partly for cleanliness of the facilities, but also to protect electronic equipment.   Spills into computer keyboards can be disastrous.

At least in the southern part of the US, students carry bottled water – or coffee, or soft drinks –  everywhere they go.  It’s important to stay hydrated for brain function.  When the weather is hot, it’s necessary for simple comfort and basic health.  It can also help students stay alert during quieter times in class.  I’m all for it!

As long as they recycle the plastic bottles or carry out their reusable ones and clean up any spills, it’s a great idea to have something to drink during class.

Even libraries are allowing students to bring covered drinks inside, and many now have coffee counters within the lobby, next to public computers and displays of books.

Students must accept their responsibilities, though.  Leave the classroom at least as clean and uncluttered as you found it at the beginning of class.  If there is a spill, clean it up.  If it affects electronics, report it (it happens).

Student Success Strategy #68:  Drink up, clean up!

Student Success Strategy #66: Even More Pet Peeves

Are sleep pants the new fashion on campus?

A few of my students have worn them to class, and it’s not that they didn’t have a chance to recover from the night before, when my class began at 4:30 p.m.

Creating an image that you are a serious student who also likes to have fun is very different from creating an image that you have fun and happen to attend classes.  Yet this is what happens when you come to class in inappropriate clothing.

Far from imposing a strict dress code, there are still some clothing items that should be avoided in class.


Low cut tops that expose more cleavage than you think.  You are sitting down, and usually leaning over or slumping.  The professors are standing up.

Cropped tops showing your midriff.  Especially with low-cut jeans or shorts.  While you may be fairly modest walking, sitting down and bending over can provide onlookers more skin than you realize.

Visible underwear, including straps, is not appropriate.  No matter how cute or colorful, or that it’s the style.  It’s call UNDERwear for a reason.

Short skirts.  Ladies, if you are wearing a skirt, learn to keep your legs tightly together at all times.  There are no modesty panels on student desks, and movement draws observers’ eyes.


Jeans or shorts that do not cover your underwear.  Do you want to have to think about whether they are about to fall off your hips, or do you want to pay attention to what is going on around you?  Again, it’s called UNDERwear.

Mesh tops.  Enough said?

Ball caps with brims pulled low.  In fact, it’s best if you don’t wear a cap at all, but if you do, be sure it allows your professor to make eye contact with you.

For all, remember that your professors may be your only references when you apply for a scholarship, internship, or job.  Why not make them comfortable so they can focus on you and your work, rather than the discomfort that your state of dress or undress brings?

Student Success Strategy #66:  Dress appropriately to create your best image.

Student Success Strategy #65: More Pet Peeves and How to Avoid Them

I’d like less for my money, please!

That’s what professors hear when you ask whether you’ll get out early from class.

That’s what professors hear when you are gathering up your papers and books and shoving them into your backpacks before the end of class.

That’s what professors hear when you start having conversations near the end of class rather than paying attention until the end.

Thank about it.  Where else would you want to get less than the most you can get for the same price?  Education is not like a bag of potato chips, where if you get the big size instead of single servings, some might get stale before you get to them (don’t try this in my house!).

You are paying for 50 minutes (or whatever length of time your class runs) of your professor’s prime time.  Not just off-the-cuff and casual meeting time, but prepared time in which to guide your intellectual growth.  Do you really want to cheat yourself out of a few minutes each class?

Think about the math:  Five minutes of wasted time in each class for a semester, figuring 30 class periods if you meet twice a week, is like giving up THREE full classes.  You are losing 10% of value in that class.

If you went to a fast food place and they said they’d only give you 90% of the food you bought, you wouldn’t be happy about that.  Or if you got a carton of eggs and in each carton, one or two eggs were broken and unusable, you wouldn’t be happy about that.

So why are students thrilled when they get out of class early, and why do they encourage the professor to end the class before it must end?

Student Success Strategy #65:  Get your money’s worth.  Show your professor that you want the full benefit of your educational opportunities.

Student Success Strategy #64: Avoiding Professors’ Pet Peeves

Professors are people too.  Yes, it’s a radical idea, but they do their grocery shopping, and their laundry, and take their car in for oil changes (thanks for always reminding me to do that while I was away at college, Dad!).

There are some things that are common to most professors.  Things that really bother them about what students do.  Here are a few of their pet peeves:

1.  Sleeping in class.  Professors know that there are times when you’ve been studying all night, are feeling ill, or there is a valid reason why you came to class when you couldn’t concentrate, and no matter how much you fought it, your eyes were closing and you fell asleep.

If it happens once, they will understand – kind of.

If it happens often, they will wonder why you bother coming to class.

You may have heard that simply coming to class is a big help to your successful completion of the class.  That’s obvious to most students.

But coming to class and sleeping through it, hoping to absorb some information simply by being there?  Not a good plan.

Do what you can to avoid this, while still showing up in class.  Because the second pet peeve of professors is not coming to class regularly, or at all!

Student Success Strategy #64:  Avoid Professors’ Pet Peeves:  Come to class, and stay awake.

Student Success Strategy #63: Never Ask This Question

“Professor, I missed last class.  Did we do anything important?”

This is probably the most irritating question a professor gets.  Did we do anything *important*?

My usual response is, “No, we did absolutely nothing of value in the last class.  Aren’t you glad you missed it?”

And then I turn away and do something else.

That should be the end of that conversation.

If, however, you ask whether I’d stay a few minutes after class to review the topics covered, assignments discussed, or how to be sure you have the correct information, I’m happy to oblige.

I’ll answer your questions, guide you to further resources, and do what I can to help you catch up to the class.  If you say that you’ve already received help or notes from another student, I’ll even go over those notes with you to fill in anything for which you need a more thorough understanding.

I’ll also remember you as a student who cares about learning the content of the class and one who is serious about education.   Need a letter of recommendation in the future?  I’ll think about you with words like “takes initiative,” “responsible,” and “intelligent” rather than “slacker” or “uncommitted.”

Student Success Strategy #63:  Never ask “Did I miss anything important?”  It’s a sure way to annoy your professor.

Student Success Strategy #58: It’s Raining!

As I write this, Tropical Storm Isaac is moving away from Florida and headed for New Orleans.  Florida is getting rain, a little wind, and there is a threat of tornado formation.  Students are not thrilled to be walking around campus in this kind of weather, and some will decide to skip classes.

Don’t.  Just don’t.  Your professors will be in class, and they will not be pleased that you didn’t make the effort to be there too.  Oh, they will remember skipping classes when they were undergraduates, but they won’t be sympathetic to your desire to stay dry.

For those of you in areas where rain is common, put a large plastic bag inside your backpack and just leave it there.  Someday you can use it to protect your books so even if your backpack gets wet, your books won’t.  Wear it as a poncho if you need to.  There will be others looking just as dorky as you, wearing garbage bags to stay dry.  If you can’t bring yourself to do that, keep an umbrella in your backpack, but we warned that if it has a metal shaft, it becomes a lightning rod and is not safe to use in electrical storms.  The wind may also turn it inside out.

Do you really think anyone is looking at you hurrying into a building in the rain?  They are trying to get inside themselves, and are only looking up enough to avoid running into you.  Once inside, you can remove your garbage bag poncho and be comfortable, while they will be waterlogged and miserable.

Most important, though, is that you made it to class.  Not only do you not miss important information, you have made a good impression on your professor.  Take this opportunity to ask a question, make a comment, or do something to let the professor know you are still focused on learning, even if your shoes have an inch of water inside and your toes are turning into wrinkled prunes.  Turn in your assignments, take notes, and congratulate yourself on braving the elements to maintain progress toward your goals.

Every impression on your professor makes a difference in how they see you.  Do you need a letter of recommendation for a student government position?  They will remember your dedication and effort to do what it takes to complete your obligations.  Do you need just a few extra points to raise your grade?  Knowing that you care about your education may be enough for the bump to the next grade.

Student Success Strategy #58:  It’s raining!  Be prepared for inconveniences.  Go to class anyway.