You’re not going to love everyone who crosses your path, but having a professor you hate can make for a difficult semester. Unlike an annoying friend, it isn’t always possible to simply take a break in the teacher-student relationship. Whether it’s personality differences or a professor who’s disorganized and hard to please, there are a few tried-and-true approaches to managing university classes when the instructor is hard to love.
Break Up With Your Professor
A bad teacher is like a bad significant other. Sometimes the relationship can’t be saved and it’s time to move on. Early in the semester, you can drop or switch classes without penalty. Move quickly! Waiting several weeks to change your class schedule may result in transcript notations that could negatively impact your academic standing.
Be Honest With Yourself
Time for some real talk: Sometimes a difficult relationship becomes more troublesome because we’re also stoking the fire. Of course, each professor has an obligation to be the best teacher they can be, but students are ultimately responsible for their own academic performance.
Be honest about your class performance and the student-teacher dynamic. It’s important to be certain that the blame isn’t being shifted and that you’re doing everything you can to do well in each class, and to build a healthy relationship with the prof.
Ask for Help
Go visit with your advisor and discuss the situation right away. Don’t wait. The way a professor teaches can negatively affect how some students perform in a class so the best choice is to get help on resolving the conflict while you still have time to drop or move on.
If you can live with it but need help to cope with the teaching style, go see a tutor. Most universities have tutors available to struggling students. If it’s too late to change your schedule, you might see if you can sit in on lectures for the same class being taught by another professor to help with retention of the material in a way that minimizes conflict.
There is a difference between a professor who isn’t your cup of tea and a professor who is harmful in the classroom. Any teacher who discriminates, says offensive and inflammatory things in class or pursues inappropriate relationships with students should be reported.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if an instructor is crossing the line. If you’re afraid of retribution, ask to remain anonymous or submit an anonymous report. Universities want to know when staff members are harming their reputation by acting inappropriately, and they will usually take steps to remedy the situation.
We know it isn’t an easy road. But you’ve come this far, so don’t let a difficult relationship with a professor keep you from success. Take the necessary actions to perform well in the class and equip yourself for future success and remember that no matter how bad one class is, it’s not more than a few months from over.