Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Of course it's all going down the shitter but I didn't think it would flush this fast

Each fall, I grace my students with a little unsolicited advice.  Nothing profound, just a caution against the latest manifestation of poor behavior by last year’s students.  As you might guess, my advice has (d)evolved to reflect the decreasing quality of my students.  “Take good notes in class” now seems so quaint but that was my first message to them oh so many years ago.  I recently told students, “Buy your books when classes start, not when the first exam comes.”  (Wouldn’t you be insulted if your professor thought you were so dumb as to deserve that warning?  Some later told me that they appreciated that bit of wisdom because they were on eht fence about whether to buy the book at all.)  Even that statement is eclipsed by today’s message.

“Don’t miss the first week of class.”

I'm paid to talk for 50 minutes at a time and I don't know what to say. I just don’t know.  How could it get worse? 

I guess I’ll find out next year.

(Bonus: Can we arrange for the students who skip the first week of class to be taught by the faculty who skip the first week of class?  They deserve each other.)


  1. I've lost count of how many times I've had to answer the question "where is the course web page", even though it is included in every mass email I send to the class.

    And there's always the person who remembers, halfway through the semester, that he/she is enrolled in the class but never showed up, then asks: "is there anything I can do"?

    No, there isn't. But your F will count "against" me, too.

  2. Our lovely institution has a webpage with advice from upperflakes to freshflakes. One of the nuggets advises freshflakes not to buy their books before they go to class. This way, they can get to class and see if they really need them.

    Books their professors marked as required when the bookstore orders went in.

    Of course, there are profflakes who don't bother submitting the orders. They're probably the ones who aren't showing up for class the first week.

  3. I had a couple of students not show up the first week. One is a student who didn't pass last semester. The other missed the first week of stats, enough said.

  4. This year, for the first time, I am putting a box with the words YES YOU MUST BUY THE BOOKS FOR THIS COURSE at the top of my syllabus, before even the course name, meeting times, location, etc. because I am sick to death of being asked "Do we have to buy the books?"

    I had one of my adjuncts come into my office last week to ask if he could do something similar because last semester he had two students refuse point-blank to buy the books (both failed, natch).


    As for students who don't show up the first week, if they're absent on the first day, I get to automatically drop them. If there is someone else on the waiting list, I will add the person who is sitting in front of me. Subsequent absences count against them, but if prior experience is any indicator, they'll be gone before the midterm. I don't worry about it anymore.

  5. There was an article in our college paper about students taking their financial aid for texts and simply not using the money that way. Kind hearted professors put books on reserve and the students used those instead, or borrowed from the professor in class, or looked on with others. What they spent the official money varied widely, as one could imagine. I had a student show me on his phone a 750 page text he had somehow obtained as a PDF.

  6. I say - a lot - you don't HAVE to do anything, but your chances of passing are slim and none if you don't have the require materials. You've got free will, though, so knock yourself out.

  7. I am adding a clause to my syllabus that reads:

    First of all: RTFS.
    Second: If your sentences starts with "Is there anything I can do to..." the answer is a resounding NO.

  8. One of my boomerangs emailed me in mid-August to tell me (not ask me) about being out of state for the first week of class, and I would hold his spot, wouldn't I? Remarkably, this email contained no punctuation or capitalization. I replied that he knew my policies from the last time he took my class. As my signature, I appended a guide to sending email appropriately.

    Guess what? He was in class on time the first day!

  9. In addition to putting in book orders on time, I always put required print materials on reserve at the library and say so on the syllabus. As far as I know our scholarship students don't get stipends for books and other expenses and may indeed be looking for alternative means of access (which is how I have always interpreted the question "do I have to BUY the book?"). Now, I can't exactly keep them from taking that reserve text right over to the photocopy center THAT IS RIGHT THERE IN THE LIBRARY FFS and procuring a personal copyright infringement at some (probably small) savings compared to the actual sticker price. But, happily, most students do end up purchasing the actual book. And then, all together, they proceed to not read it.

    Still, most of the rudeness that I read about on CM has not infiltrated the student population around here. Basic respect for teachers and other authority figures is pretty effectively ingrained in this culture, which I realize makes my job easier in loads of little ways. My thanks go out to all of you who remind me of this fact!

  10. For one upper-level class, our professor's instructions for submitting papers included, "Remember to put your name on the paper." Sigh.