Never Say This To Your Professor!

Social skills are vital and, in some life situations, crucial to your future. Let’s take college as an example: what you say to your professors may significantly affect your progress with your courses and your grades. So choose the words carefully and good luck!

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1) I didn’t know… the assignment was due today/I had to read it by today/how to complete the task/we learned it last week because i was ill/…

It’s rarely a good idea to openly admit at school that you do not know something. And don’t be surprised but knowing about the whole syllabus and each homework, and deadline is on you. And if you have any troubles with your homework, try spending more time on it, consult your friends or classmates or go to your professor during their office hours. If you choose the second option, start with an explanation of the approach you took, not just demand a solution. Keep in mind that it’s also you who is supposed to be following the materials presented during the classes you skip. And saying you simply “did not know” is not enough of an excuse, sorry. As you know, “ignorance of the law excuses not”.

2) I didn’t do the homework/take the test/…, can I do it later?

Having put the question like that simply shows you didn’t care enough to inquire about it beforehand. Moreover, your professor can find it improper, especially if no solid explanation follows. Supposing you actually had an emergency, try softening your approach and explaining the situation. Professors are humans too and have no intent in ruining your college time and grades for you. In any case, always try to ask or at least let your teacher know before you skip, not after.

3) I didn’t have enough time because I had a lot of other homework assignments/sports trainings/things to do/…

Here you are literally saying your professor that their class is not important to you, and that their effort to teach you something on the subject will go in vain. And it’s indeed offensive because they have spent their time preparing high-quality materials for the classes, and they expect to be treated with due respect. So work on improving your time-management skills and set priorities on the basis of whether the tasks due are obligatory or optional.

4) Why do I need to … learn this rule/complete this task/come to this class/take this course?

It’s one thing to ask about the connection between the new material and what you have already learned, and it’s completely another one to imply the information is irrelevant or that you hate being at this class. Remember the fact that the person in front of you has dedicated years of their life to studying the field they are teaching. If you have questions, ask politely and be patient.

And some more pieces of advice:

    • don’t compare professors. Each one of them is unique, as well as the material they choose and their teaching methods.
    • don’t ask professors if you’ve missed something important. Try to research it on your own or simply ask for the pages you need to read to catch up.
    • don’t brag about how late you started doing homework and how quickly you finished: all because it was easy. You may be trying to emphasize how smart you are but along the way you are showing that you put off your professors tasks for later as if they don’t matter enough.
    • don’t use the language you use with your friends. Just don’t. Not only there’s a generation gap but also fundamental rules of respectful behavior.

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