Everyone has something that irks them, and college professors are no exception. Are you guilty of any of these behaviors?
9. Trying to Use Big Words in Essays without Knowing What They Mean
Some college students think that bigger words = better writing. Of course, college professors will always encourage you to expand your vocabulary. The problem with using too many big words is that you can end up looking less intelligent if you’re using a big word incorrectly. Big words like “verisimilitude” or “peccadillo” exist because sometimes we need words to capture an utterly precise definition for something. If you look up “trickery” in the thesaurus, it will say that “chicanery” is a synonym, but you wouldn’t use “chicanery” to describe a general act of trickery; rather, you would say that someone is committing chicanery if they are trying to trick you by using sophistry. This is just one example, but we have thousands and thousands of big words in English that try to capture utterly precise events and behaviors like that of “chicanery.” Just remember that professors grade your papers on the quality of your smart ideas, not by the weight of the paper. Big words may weigh your paper down; smart, creative, and intelligent ideas, even if they are expressed with common language, will impress your professor the most. When in doubt, just follow Jonathan Swift’s advice: “Proper words in proper places.”
8. No Showing a Scheduled Appointment
It may seem like common sense to show up to an appointment if you make one, but students don’t show up to appointments frequently. Professors are busy, especially at a research institution like Texas Tech where they are required to research and publish frequently. If a professor says that she will meet with you outside of her scheduled office hours, she is agreeing to meet with you in between teaching, researching, reading, writing, preparing for class, and, of course, her own personal leisure time. In other words, your professor could be doing something else instead of meeting with you; and by not showing up to your meeting, you are wasting her precious time that could have been devoted elsewhere.
7. Texting During Class
Tech professors are intelligent (or they would be at those two schools south of here). They know when you’re texting, and looking at your crotch and smiling is a good way to let your teacher know that you could care less about what he is talking about. Professors consider texting disrespectful (and annoying!) because they think: “What could possibly be so urgent that you need immediate communication with the outside world instead of listening to this lecture that I worked on for hours?” Sure, emergencies happen, but if those emergencies happen, you should probably just leave the classroom instead of distracting everyone else.
6. Asking for Extra Credit
Some professors offer extra credit opportunities, which is fine. Others, however, believe that there are no “Get out of jail free” cards in college because there are few “Get out of jail free” cards in real life if you make a serious mistake. Teachers are much more willing to help you when you help yourself, so if you are struggling in a class, talk to the teacher about how you can do well on future assignments instead of just begging for free points on a past assignment. Don’t wait until the end of the semester to get this help, though. It’ll be too late at that point.
5. Sending E-mails after Normal Business Hours and Expecting a Response
Of course, it is fine to e-mail a professor at night or on the weekends if you have a question. Some might even be happy to respond to you immediately. The problem occurs when/if you expect your professor to read and respond to these e-mails outside of normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Would you want to disrupt your Breaking Bad Netflix binge to respond to an e-mail? Would it be fun to end your epic Call of Duty killstreak to answer e-mails from students who waited until the last minute to complete an important assignment and are now stuck and can’t figure out what to do? Contrary to popular belief, Texas Tech professors do have lives (well, most of them do), so don’t expect your professor to respond to e-mails outside of normal business hours or during vacations/holidays.
4. Not Participating in Class
Unless you’re in a huge lecture hall with 249 other students, most professors will expect you to participate in class. Professors frequently stop their lecture to offer students the opportunity to ask questions. They don’t like the awkward and apathetic silence that often occurs when they ask for questions because, as public servants and caring individuals, they want to know that they are helping you learn and understand the material. Also, professors know that you learn more when you become an active participant in your own learning. By not participating in class, not only are you making your teacher frustrated, you are also preventing yourself from learning effectively.
3. Asking Questions Whose Answers Are on the Syllabus
At most universities, syllabi are considered to be legal documents, and Texas Tech is no exception to this. Professors spend hours putting together these large documents so that you can use them as a resource to answer your own questions. When you ask a question like “When are your office hours?” or “How do I get into contact with you?” you are telling your professor that it’s just easier to ask questions than it is to look up the answers yourself. College is the time to learn how to investigate to find answers; start learning how to investigate by spending time with your course syllabi and finding answers.
2. Unprofessional E-mails
Hopefully, all of your professors are very likeable, approachable, and friendly. This does not mean that you are their friend, though. When you send them e-mails like “hey can u send the syllabus i forgot it in class lol,” not only are you being extremely unprofessional, you are setting bad habits for yourself in the future. Namely, most job searching is done online these days. Do you think that you’re going to get an interview if you can’t type a complete sentence or use proper diction? Start practicing e-mail etiquette now by sending your professors professional e-mails. They will be more forgiving of small mistakes than a future employer will. Also, don’t send your professors e-mails from your firstname.lastname@example.org account. You pay to use a ttu.edu e-mail address. Use this address to talk to your professors and to talk to potential employers. It is difficult to convey tone of voice through e-mail, so make sure that you are being as clear and professional as possible so that you don’t portray yourself negatively to your professors.
Texas Tech pays professors to do research, so if they can find an obscure article on maritime law in eighteenth-century France, they can probably find your “essay” that you took from someone else on the Internet. Plagiarism is especially annoying for professors because it is a time consuming problem to deal with. If a professor catches you plagiarizing, he has to file an official report with the Student Judiciary Council and meet with that committee on his own free time to determine how you will be punished for plagiarism. Moreover, when you turn in a plagiarized paper, you assume that your teacher is not smart enough to tell that you are plagiarizing, which insults their intelligence. Unusual phrasing, shifts in style (i.e. poorly worded sentences followed by sophisticated ones), incomplete documentation, and concepts that seem too advanced for the level of the class are just a few ways that professors detect plagiarism. Plagiarism is also illegal, and, in some extreme cases, people have gone to jail for plagiarizing. Finally, plagiarism is insulting and annoying because professors are unable to assess their students’ learning when students are dishonest. Tech professors are constantly evaluating their job performance, and if you’re dishonest about your learning, then professors cannot accurately gauge how well they are teaching.