Have a Bad Professor? Tips to Get You Through the Semester

Throughout college, you won’t always have the best professors each semester and in every class. If you’re stuck with a bad professor, or specifically a mean professor, it can cause a lot of stress. What qualifies someone as a bad professor though? Well, it can be different for each student and each professor. Their teaching styles, homework assignments, projects, and even mean personalities can make them less than subpar professors. Let’s skip all the stress of that and fix the problem as quickly as possible. Here is College Raptor’s advice on what to do about a bad professor.

1. Change Your Class

During the first week of classes, college students are usually able to change the courses they are in. This add/drop week allows you to drop the current course and register for another one without penalty. If you can tell early on that your class has a bad professor, it’s important to take advantage of this during the first week of classes. You won’t have to use your limited number of withdrawals and you’ll avoid this bad professor all semester long!

2. Talk with the Professor

Do you think the reason your professor is bad is because of their teaching style or their boring lectures? If so, stop by their office during office hours to speak with them. We don’t suggest telling them that you aren’t a fan of their teaching style, but it could benefit you to ask further questions. You’ll get more insight into the material you’re learning! If they see that multiple students are coming in and asking for clarification, they may be more inclined to change something in their normal lectures. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to understand the material better and clear up any miscommunication so you can stay on top of your grades. There may even be extra credit opportunities available for students who take advantage of a professor’s office hours!

3. Drop the Course

Later into the semester, you may be eligible to still withdraw from the course if you see that you are not going to finish strong. Your bad professor situation may not have gotten any better, despite your best efforts, so withdrawing from the course is your best option. You don’t want to have a bad grade on your transcript because of a bad professor. Instead of having a low grade and risking your GPA, you’ll have a W on your transcript. Keep in mind, you have a limited number of withdrawals you can use in your undergraduate degree so it’s something you need to be sure of before you do it.

4. Speak with an Academic Adviser or Department Head

There are some college professors out there that can be mean to students despite their role and responsibility to teach. If your mean professor is acting unprofessionally and it’s causing you to get bad grades, you can make an appointment with an advisor or the head of the department they’re in. Having a complaint on record can benefit you and future students with this bad professor. The department head, academic adviser, or dean can hold a meeting with the professor to express your concerns which may help resolve their negative behavior. 

5. Use Extra Resources

If you’re unable to get out of the course with a bad professor, it may feel like a defeat, but it’s still important to put your best effort into your schoolwork. Using online resources like Khan Academy and YouTube allows you to learn about your course material from someone other than your professor. Though this is not ideal for all students, it’s very helpful when it comes to keeping up your grades and actually understanding the material. When you’re at a larger school, it can be more difficult to learn from a tough professor because of the large lecture classes. See if your college has study groups for your specific course so you can connect with other students in a different class. 

6. Control the Things You Can Control

There are things you and control, and things you can’t. Like, you can control your attitude, your study habits, and your outlook. So if dropping the course isn’t a good or likely option, find ways to make the class livable for the semester – I mean, it’s only one semester. Do you have friends in the class? Sit next to them and study with them. Run to relieve stress. Take notes with fun pens. Whatever it is that makes you happy or helps destress, all these tools will help give you a positive outlook so you can get through the semester.

How to Avoid Bad Professors in the Future

Though bad professors are inevitable, there are ways to avoid them. When you’re making your course schedule for the following semester, look up each professor on RateMyProfessor. It’s an online source that allows college students from previous semesters to go and leave a teacher evaluation on the professors so you can get a feel for the class and their teaching style. Keep in mind, anyone can leave reviews so they may not be accurate.

When the schedule for the following semester comes out, speak with fellow students who have taken classes with that professor before so you can get to know their teaching style and overall personality. You can also join online groups for your college on social media platforms where you can ask questions about your school and professors to see what other students have to say!

Don’t be discouraged if you end up having a bad professor in college. There are still great educators and instructors in your school that will help you throughout your college career!

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