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Just in Case: Putting up with a patronizing professor

Roseann Bertone

Issue date: 1/30/09 Section: Focus
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One of my professors is being extremely difficult. He doesn't answer my e-mails, he's patronizing in class, and whenever I go to his office hours, I usually just feel crappier and more confused after I leave. What should I do?

Signed, Frustrated with the Faculty

Unfortunately, at some time or another we will all probably find ourselves in a similar position, be it here at Case, in graduate school, or with a boss out in the real world. The first thing I would suggest doing is making sure that this is not a misunderstanding. Look back at the syllabus from the first day of class. This early in the semester, it's important not to assume that the professor is always patronizing. Perhaps he's going through a rough time, or just doesn't realize how he is coming across to his students. Or perhaps he is just a difficult person, in which case you have a couple options.

One option would be to withdraw from the class. Unfortunately at this point, it's past the drop-add period, but if you feel like the class is really going to be a struggle and kill your GPA, dropping it may be the perfect solution to completely avoid the problem (especially if it's not a class required by your major.)

If dropping the class isn't a good option for you, now is the time to check out ESS (Educational Student Services). This wonderful office here at Case organizes the SI program. If you're lucky, then there will be an SI assigned to your class and the review times will be during your free time. If so, I strongly encourage you to attend some of these sessions. I find that sometimes just going over the material in a different way can help to better understand it. If there isn't an SI available for your class, the next stop should be TutorTrac, also arranged by ESS (and available on their website). This service offers tutoring in a wide variety of classes offered here at Case. These one-on-one sessions are free to Case students and can be a great help.

If these options don't seem to be available to you, talk to the person sitting next to you, or in front of you, or behind you. Odds are, you are not the only one struggling with the class, but there are also probably people who are doing better than you. Organize a study group; what makes sense to you may not make sense to someone else, and vice-versa. Working as a group can make the problems a little easier and the concepts a little clearer. And on those days when the professor is especially patronizing, it can make it a little better to have someone to roll your eyes at and have a laugh with.

Just remember, it's only one class for one semester, and soon enough it will be over. Just remember not to take another class with the same professor again!
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In This Issue


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  • Integrity Week to kick off
  • Robert Petit lecture elucidates Cambodia's "killing fields"
  • Student State of the University Address looks for improvement
  • Survey results provide new details of SAGES progress
  • Tuition increase scaled back amid tough times


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  • Browns fans should rethink rivalry
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  • Spartan Spotlight: Bryan Erce
  • Swimmers get wins in last meet before conferences
  • Throwback Weekend: Old-school jerseys are a growing trend
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