You’re reading all the required material and then some, you turn in your assignments on time, speak up in class and nail all the pop quizzes — and nothing seems to impress your professor. At least once during her college career, every student comes across a professor she just doesn’t get along with. This conflict can surface for any number of reasons, but if you find yourself butting heads with an instructor and you don’t know how to handle the situation, there is hope.
First off, give your professor the benefit of the doubt. Make sure you’re not taking her critiques as personal attacks or interpreting her annoyance with bias. Go to class with the best of intentions, do your best work, and pay attention to your interactions as objectively as possible. Before making any hasty judgments, talk to other students. Ask if this professor has a history of treating students harshly. If someone else has faced similar difficulties with the professor, ask how she dealt with the problem and see if you can follow suit.
It’s easier said than done of course, but if the problem continues, talk to your professor. Stop by during her office hours and address your concerns in an open-minded, casual manner. Avoid becoming confrontational; just start a conversation and ask about how you can improve your performance in class. If you’re not ready to address the problem head-on yet, make it clear that you’re working hard. Talk about how much you’re enjoying the class and mention all the extra work you’ve been dedicating. Your professor may just be under the misconception that you’re not invested in the class, so simply bragging a little bit may alleviate the problem.
If your issues persist, do your research before taking action. Learn about your school’s policies for withdrawing from a class and whether your decision will affect your academic standing. Talk to other students who have withdrawn from classes or filed complaints about their professors and get all the facts. Avoid taking action unless suffering through the course is going to cause you serious mental strain or harm your GPA.
Finally, talk to your academic advisor or another professor or administrator whom you trust. Explain your concerns honestly and ask what options may be available. You may be able to withdraw from the class or switch to another professor without any problem, or you may be required to file an official report. Remember: If you’re being treated unfairly, you should put yourself first and defend yourself. Be wary of the consequences, but always put yourself first.