Apr 112002

Like a ticking time bomb, the end of the semester is fast approaching, and professors know it.

Springtime means more than baseball, barbeques and warmer temperatures; it also means a heavier load of class work. Why? Because it’s that time of year again when professors hastily realize they have not already taught every little concept they had typed in their syllabi. The end of the semester is the quintessential time for catching-up, and the responsibility piles on the students, with the professors not held accountable.

In four years at this university, I have always experienced an influx of work at this time of year, conveniently at the time when the weather starts to become nice again and most students would rather give themselves cigarette burns on their tongues than suffocate in a hot classroom. Professors probably know this fact and wait until this time of year to bring on the hard stuff so they can force students to come to class in order to get a decent grade.

Some may argue that making people come to class is a professor’s job. I disagree. A professor’s job is to make sure people are learning, and sometimes they fail to realize there are lessons that can only be experienced outside of the classroom.

Grades shouldn’t be dependent on attendance. With the way some professors I’ve had taught, I could have stayed at home, read the book for the class and got the same information out of it as I did sitting in a packed lecture hall. It was like these professors stood at the front of the room with a book over their face and just started reading all the while too absorbed with their own lecturing voice to realize the class was dozing off, surfing the Internet or scribbling out a crossword puzzle. How can anyone learn in an environment like this?

Why should I go to class, when the professor is wasting more of my time than I could by watching a three-day “M.A.S.H.” marathon on television? Why should I try to complete every assignment when a professor waits until the last minute before the university will crack down on them?

What can professors do to help students out? It is simple; cut them a little slack. In addition to classes, students have jobs to work, families to take care of, and some of the lucky ones (I’m not one of these privileged few) even get the chance to have a social life. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks these things are too much to juggle at once.

Professors sometimes forget about what it was like to be in college when they had a million things going on every day. Some of them get too comfortable in their jobs and don’t realize the reason students now can’t get all their assignments done is because they’re burned out by a long, hard year of papers, exams, projects, speeches, presentations and other countless assignments.

I have had a few professors who tailored their syllabi to make their courses balanced from the start of the semester, or gave students a chance to drop some assignments or at least understood when something unexpectedly came up they couldn’t handle without some help. For me, these professors have been the minority, but I thank them for their understanding or at least their attempt to make their classes more creative and interesting.

If I could, I’d say more about this problem, but I have a paper to write, a test to study for and a project to complete, and they’re all due tomorrow.

Josh Hardin is a senior majoring in technical journalism.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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