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 #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 #57: Drop/Swap/Add

Help!  I hate the class I just attended.  I don’t want to take it, but I need something to fill in the hours to keep my scholarship.

Yes, you can drop classes.  If you find you are in a class you either don’t need or don’t want, you can replace it with one that’s better for you – at least in the first few days.  Schools have specific mechanisms for swapping out classes, or dropping and adding classes, but there are hard deadlines on adding to your schedule so you don’t miss too much of the semester.

When you add a class after the first class period, be sure you go to the next class early or plan to stay late to discuss the class syllabus with the professor.  The professor should have a copy for you, and should briefly go over the major points.

This is a wonderful opportunity to let the professor know that you are looking forward to the semester with her, and intend to be a great student.  It’s never too early (or too late) to make a good impression, and staying after class to be sure you have all the information you need gives you the excuse to plan your introduction for creating your recognition from among all the students.

Of course, you can do this even if you started the class on the first day.  Ask to go over the syllabus again after the second class, and have a question or two ready.  This plan gives you the chance to present yourself as a serious student and keeps you in the professor’s thoughts.

Student Success Strategy #57:  Drop/Swap/Add.  Remember that adding classes can only occur in the first few days.  Don’t miss deadlines!

Strategy for Success #44: Wait! Wait!

Waiting for a professor to show up?  It happens that occasionally a professor misses a class.  Usually, there is some form of notification, especially with all of the electronic means of communication available.  There may also be a note left on the door or in the classroom.

Those situations are easy.  If you know ahead of time, don’t go.  If there’s a note at the class, you have two options.  Leave as soon as you see it, celebrate your free time (not too enthusiastically, please), or use the time to meet with your fellow students to plan ahead for group projects, get questions answered, or even to study together.

If there is no note, how long do you wait for the professor to arrive before leaving?  One tradition is that a teaching assistant rates 5 minutes, an assistant professor or lecturer 10 minutes, an associate professor 15 minutes, and a full professor 20 minutes.

The rumor is that as a professor’s rank in academia increases, so should the courtesy shown to him or her.   Have you done your research to know your professor’s rank?  Some colleges don’t even use rank, only the term “professor.”

Does your college have a tradition for this?  Is it written, unwritten but understood, or just a rumor?  Why not ask the professor before any possible misunderstanding?  Ask with extreme restraint and respect, to avoid creating an impression of hoping for canceled classes.

Try THIS:  “Professor, what should we do if you are delayed getting to class and have no way of notifying us that you are on your way?”

NOT this:  “Professor, how long do we have to wait for you if you are late?”

Student Success Strategy #44:  Wait!  But plan ahead for this possibility so your time isn’t wasted.

Student Success Strategy #43: Turn it off!

Is there anything so important and urgent in your life that you must be available 24/7?  Including during the hour or so of class?

Turn OFF your cell phone.  Before class begins.  Leave it off until class ends, and leave it in your backpack or pocket throughout the class.

If you do have an urgent issue, such as a family member’s surgery outcome, then discuss that with your professor before class.  Explain that you want to be available for your family in case they need to contact you, or when there is an update to a health condition.   Then, if you get a call, or even a text, nod to your professor, motion to your phone, and quickly leave the classroom to talk or read.

This will be the least disruptive for your fellow students and the most respectful to your professor.  Even if you do not need to use this permission during the class, you will have impressed your professor with your thoughtfulness, forward thinking, and acknowledgement of the value of the class.   Beyond that, you will have created professional “face time” for the professor to remember you, your name, and a positive association.

Student Success Strategy #43:  Turn off the cell phone!  Show respect for the professor and the class.