Monday, September 2, 2013

If a Student asks... The Answer is...

These Q&A's come from my academic experience. I know many of you have more to add to the list!

1. If a student asks: Will you be in your office so I can come by to talk to you about my grade?
The answer is: Yes, I'm in my office during office hours. (The student will never figure out when those office hours are and will always claim to have come by when you were not in your office, implying that you  are somewhat delinquent in your office-hour duties by not living in your office waiting for that student to stop by... all this, despite your having posted office hours on the LMS, in the syllabus, and on your office door.)

2. If a student asks: Is there anything I can do to make up the work I have missed?
The answer is: No. Drop the class now. Leave. Quickly!

3. If a student asks: Will you add me to the class? I didn't get cleared to register before now, but I really need this class.
The answer is: The class is full.  It's full even if you still have fifteen empty seats. This student will be the bane of your existence for the remainder of the year. Do not add him/her.

4. If a student asks: Is it OK if I miss the last two weeks of school because my parents booked a family reunion cruise? (Same goes for missing the first two weeks of school or missing an exam.)
The answer is: Only if you want to miss the final project, the final presentation, the final exam, and lose 65% of your grade. You do the math to figure out if it's worth missing anything.

5. If a student asks: What kind of perfume/cologne are you wearing?
The answer is: I don't know. My SWAT-team-sniper Significant Other bought it for me.

6. If a student asks: "What's gonna be on the final exam?"
The answer is: 42.

7. If a student asks: "Can I turn that in late?"
The answer is: No. (Once you break your commitment to sticking to deadlines, you're toast. You'll never see another assignment come in on time.)

8. If a student asks: Why can't you be as cool as Professor Digby?
The answer is: What do you mean? (Just keep repeating that phrase and the student will eventually get the point.)

9. If a student asks: Can we watch a movie?
The answer is: Only if I get to pick the movie we watch, and I can promise you that you won't like it.

10. If a student asks: Can I do a makeup quiz for the one I missed?
The answer is: Sure, stop by during my office hours before the midterm exam... (See #1).


  1. Amen on #3. I wish it weren't the case (hope springs eternal), but experience suggests that students whose lives have recently been in enough chaos to make on-time registration difficult will remain in enough chaos to make coping with coursework difficult. It's probably better to take a semester off and get things really under control.

    And I like #5 (though that's not a problem I've had).

    1. I especially liked #3 when I read the list this morning. Less than an hour later, I got a message from a senior who wanted to add my class now because there were "some major foul ups for me in registration." Of course, I (truthfully) replied that the class is full.

  2. "Can I turn that in late?"

    "Of course you can. Oh wait, you mean for credit? No."

  3. And if they understand '42' and respond appropriately ("I'll make sure to bring my towel!") they get 10 bonus points...

    1. 20 if they bring a pitcher of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to share.

    2. And sentenced to listen to Vogon Poetry if they don't get it.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. The (deleted) double post was Blogger and not bourbon. Honest.

    2. That happened to me last week (no bourbon then, either).

  5. If my profs held to #3, I never would have made it out of my MA.

    We were required to take multiple courses each term outside of our home department.

    Each external course added required a physical signature on a single piece of paper from:

    -The professor.

    -The program coordinator of the external department.

    -The administrative coordinator of the external department.

    -The program coordinator of one's home department.

    -The administrative coordinator of one's home department.

    -One's advisor.

    -The Grand Poobah of Form Signing and Data Entering at the Faculty of Graduate Studies


    (Ok, I made the last one up.)

    No electronic substitutes were accepted. Period.

    It did not matter if one (or more) of the above people was on leave, on sabbatical, or out of the country doing fieldwork. If that meant mailing the form to Timbuktu, then you'd better have the correct return postage.

    It did not matter how notorious a flake a person in any one of the above positions was.

    It did not matter if one of those positions was currently vacant. Seriously.

    It. Did. Not. Matter.

    The Grand Poobah of Form Signing and Data Entering at the Faculty of Graduate Studies would not formally enrol you into the course and enter you into the computer system until every single one of those signatures was obtained.

    It was not unusual for this to take more than a which case a whole new set of flaming hoops had to be jumped through to get retroactively added to a course one had already completed.


    1. That sounds like a genuinely Special Local Circumstance, of which faculty were presumably aware (if only because they couldn't move around on campus without being pursued by hordes of desperate students waving forms to be signed). All my students need is a registration time, their login credentials, an internet-capable computing device, and room in their schedule for one of the 100 or so sections of my course that are taught each semester. Oh, unless they're athletes; then they apparently need an academic adviser to register for them (and have no idea how to work the system themselves, which is actually not to their advantage). Also, they're supposed to take the class in the second semester of sophomore year or the first semester of junior year (or whatever is more or less equivalent for transfer students), but desperate emails always come from seniors who are theoretically about to graduate (or, in some cases, who have walked, but need the class to get the diploma).

    2. Re: The Grand Poobah of Form Signing and Data Entering at the Faculty of Graduate Studies. See Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, above.

    3. Oh, that was you, Drunk in a Midnight Choir! No wonder you're a Douglas Adams fan. You lived the madness.

    4. I once was knocked out of an upper level grad course because the uni discovered retroactively that I hadn't submitted my immunization forms. Having earned a BA and a master's at US institutions was apparently not sufficient proof that I had duly received all my shots as a child.

    5. Kate, I had the same thing happen, except I had submitted my records and they had lost them.

    6. And when I registered for college "back in the day" (oh, how I hate that phrase), we also had to run a gauntlet around campus to get signatures and stamps. But my kids today need their login, health clearance (which entails filling out paperwork to sign up for the student health plan or filling out a waiver form if they aren't immunized), and to have set up their financials. That's it.

      Instead, what happens is the 'late' students are the ones who are floundering in life, and they will flounder in class, too, especially since they always show up at the two-week deadline to add when they've missed the first 1/8 of the quarter.

      Yes, there are exceptions, and those are always the students I know ahead of time and have learned will be fine. But students I don't know who show up late are pretty much going to have to find another section.

  6. Re: #6. When a student asks, "Can you tell us what will be on the exam?" I sometimes say, "Sure, want me to tell you some of the answers?"

    [Gasp. Sideways glances at others.] "Please!"

    "B, C, C, A, D, A."

    1. And you watch them scramble to try to write it down... it's so precious. :)

  7. This is great! I'm going to use it too!!!!

  8. Very funny, Cynic! Thanks for making me smile today!

    1. Aw, as always, Bella, you're welcome, and thanks!