The Daily Vidette (Illinois State U.)
(U-WIRE) NORMAL, Ill. – As it turns out, professors are not out
to get students…
It’s that time of year again. Papers need to be finished.
Presentations need to be given. Quizzes need to be taken.
The end of the semester comes with a lot of work and a lot of
As I walk around campus and talk with friends, I hear a common
complaint, “Do professors understand I have other classes I need to
get things done in?”
It seems many students believe their professors do not think
they have three or four other classes with professors requesting
just as much, if not more, work and time. And I admit, I also have
to wonder if some professors really understand this.
When they have three papers, a couple of presentations and a
quiz, students tend to go into panic mode. How will I get it all
done? Will I fail if I don’t put as much effort in? Will this
teacher give an extension? Does the teacher understand all I have
It’s a lot to handle, especially when you have other things
going on in your personal life and working a job on top of
everything. So I decided to go on a mission. I made a couple of
calls around campus to see what professors had to say for
themselves. I couldn’t talk with every department, but the ones I
did talk to were helpful.
As it turns out, professors are not out to get students — at
least not the ones I talked to and they ensured me it is the same
for most professors.
“I was in (students’) shoes once too,” accounting lecturer
Charlie Thomas said. He added he understands students have big
loads, especially the final weeks of a semester.
“I know my class doesn’t occur in a vacuum,” said Craig
McLauchlan, assistant professor of chemistry.
McLauchlan even added his department tries to work with the
biology and physics departments to avoid students having to take
tests on the same day. While it does not always work, McLauchlan
said they do what they can so students do not have more than one
difficult test on the same day.
It was somewhat shocking to hear and I hung up the phone with a
dumbfounded feeling. These “mean, scary” professors who teach
difficult classes and are out to get us actually recognize the work
load students have?
“We can’t just take you out and say ‘sink or swim,'” marketing
professor Linda Showers said. She said it is not fair when
instructors give out big assignments in the last few weeks of
classes. Professors have to structure the class in a way to help,
But while professors do understand more than we give them credit
for, I also learned they can be just as frustrated with students as
we get with them.
Showers said she gets frustrated when students say they are
having trouble completing projects or papers that have been on the
syllabus since the beginning of the semester and have been
discussed well in advance.
McLauchlan said he tries to set guidelines early for
assignments, but sometimes there are still those students who ask
for an extension.
Assistant professor of chemistry William Hunter said students
need to manage their time and priorities.
“That’s the same with me right now,” he said. “We are all busy.”
Showers said professors should be helping students by working
continuously with them throughout the semester, especially on big
projects. She added she does this weekly with her students through
journal entries and class discussions.
But let’s face it, there are just some of those professors who
do not explain a big project until last minute, leaving students
panicked and cursing their education.
This is where Hunter reminded me of a very valid point — “the
learning is in (students’) own hands.”
No, we cannot fix the handful of professors that give us gray
hair at a young age, but there are ways to just get through it.
One of the best things students often forget they can do is talk
with their professor(s). They will often have useful suggestions.
Here is what I learned…
“A good nights sleep and a positive attitude go along way,”
McLauchlan said. The more sleep you have, the more efficient you
will be. Take breaks often, he continued, but don’t forget there is
still going to be some hard work involved.
“Don’t swallow accounting (you can fill in your major here) in
big chunks,” Thomas said. “Don’t take big bites, but eat often.” It
is hard to get studying done when you are already stressed, he
“Work on (things]) continuously so it is not a last minute
thing,” Showers said. When it is on the syllabus, try to get things
started early. Stress happens when students cram things into the
end of the semester. Ask yourself, “do you like the way you are
feeling right now,” Hunter suggested. While it may not help you
right now, Hunter said it should teach students to help prepare for