Students must put effort into classes

Advice from Andy

By on October 7, 2014

The rumblings are vaguely audible, poorly constructed and terribly stated, but the complaints are thrown to the wind regardless of a speaker’s fallacious logic. The rhetoric is bitter, the comments are stinging, and the arguments are terribly misguided. Often (not withholding the possibility of better constructed sentences) a statement will begin like this: “Such and such a professor is terrible. We don’t: a.) Get enough work, or; b.) Get a break from all this work.

Note who the blame is placed on in both scenarios—fault placed externally rather than internally. Without considering the counterargument, students create assertions and make and levy deductions that inaccurately vilify educators at universities. It is a classic, and somewhat juvenile, “It can’t possibly be me, so it must be you” kind of argument.

When considering the plight of many professors, the situation appears somewhat bleak; a classic dam*** if you do, dam*** if you don’t predicament. Students want either the easy “A,” (little work, little learning, little anything, really) or they want a class that they get something out of (more reading, more papers, more research). Professors who choose to please the former, upset the latter, and, subsequently, if a professor attempts to please the latter, they anger the former.

When a professor appeases those who want a simple course—an inexcusable action in my mind—those who yearn for a challenging course complain about the ease of the course. This is what I say to you: Go further on your own; just because a professor fails to meet his or her obligation does not mean that a student can not set a precedent of their own. Once you terminate your complaints, open up the course book and read further—rarely does a class ever cover an entire text completely. As you read, let your intellectual curiosity guide you toward subjects and topics unbeknownst to you. A professor, regardless of the course load they plan to unpack on students, can only do so much in the approximately two and a half hours of class time a week. Only so much education can occur inside a classroom—the rest is on you.

Now let’s look at the latter: The complaints brought forth from those who think professors expect too much. These professors create courses that stimulate the intellectually curious and frustrate the intellectually unwilling. This is what I say to those bothered by these professors: If you don’t like it, leave.

I may sound harsh, and if not, I implore you to take it that way. A professor who expects solid academic performance is no different than a future employer who will expect the same—so why do we treat it any different? People go to college today expecting the parties and the epic weekends and the throngs of new people; unfortunately they neglect the true goal: Furthering your education. Going to college infers a student’s willingness to enhance his or her mind. The motivation to attend college should not be the final degree, but should instead be the degree to which a student’s outlook on the world around them has been transformed.

What I would like to do now is take a look at ratemyprofessor.com. Here is the Holy Grail of poorly written (obviously some of you should have spent less time complaining and more time listening in your EN 101/102) and laughably out of place complaints about professors who expect something out of their students (how dare they).

One complaint stood out in particular: “Annotate everything, take note during discussion, it will come up later! Just be thoughtful and think very deeply in your papers- explain everything and back it up with evidence or else!” (Note: I did not edit this entry).

In this comment, a student warns others about expectations given by the professor, seeming to assert that the expectations are unfounded, although, ironically, the warning is exactly what a student should be prepared for. The statement exemplifies exactly what is wrong with college education—not the professors, but the students.

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