how to confront your college professor
Posted : October 9, 2007
Last Updated : March 11, 2014
Confronting your college professor may seem intimidating, but if you are unhappy with a grade or experiencing other problems with your professor then it's time to set up an appointment to discuss your issues. Be sure to utilize these tips for politely confronting your college professor.
Visit your professor during office hours or a scheduled appointment. You probably aren't going to get very far if you try to talk to your professor immediately before or after class. Your professor has a busy schedule, and he needs to stick to it. Instead, drop by to see him during his regular office hours or send him an email to request an appointment. Your professor will be able to devote more attention to the issues you wish to discuss if you confront him at the appropriate time.
Go to the meeting fully prepared. If you need to talk to your professor about your grades, be sure to take all your graded papers, tests, etc. with you. Make a list of the items you would like to discuss or any questions you may have.
Be polite. Remember: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. You can't yell and curse at your professor and then expect him to help you. To effectively confront your professor, you have to be polite. Use kind words to explain your situation and be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
Listen. Once you have kindly addressed the issues you are having with the professor, let him talk. Listen to why he gave you the grade that he did. Or why he doesn't give make-up exams. Try to gain a clear understanding of his stated reasons. Once the two of you understand each other, you can work together to come up with a solution.
Be prepared to do work. If you are confronting your professor about a grade, he probably isn't going to immediately change your grade (unless it was a grading mistake on his part). Instead, he'll probably offer suggestions for improvement or offer extra credit options. Let your professor know that you are willing to put forth the extra effort required. If you are convinced that the work you already submitted deserves a better grade, your professor may be open to the idea of getting feedback from another professor. Just be ready to improve upon your work if your professor's colleague agrees with the grade already given.
Most professors are willing to work with you on grades and classroom problems as long as you are genuinely interested in learning and doing well in class. However, if you leave a meeting with your professor with no resolution, you may want to speak with your professor's department chair. While department chairs are extremely reluctant to change grades since professors have considerable freedom in the classroom, he/she may be able to intervene if you strongly believe that you are being treated unfairly by your professor.