Unhelpful Professors

It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Sometimes professors, especially in big lecture hall classes, just don’t want to take the time to help their students. Professors are human too, and they have their own priorities. In a lot of those freshmen-level classes, the professors are much more interested in their own research than in whether or not you can understand how to balance chemical equations.

But having a disinterested professor doesn’t mean that you have to fail intro to chemistry or philosophy 101. This struggle is one of the main differences between high school and college. You have to learn how to learn. There won’t be someone sitting by your side, teaching you everything you need to know. In the end, it’s on you to actually learn it all.

The transition doesn’t have to be as hard as some professors make it, though. Often times in large lecture halls, there are teaching assistants (TAs) who help take the load of confused freshmen off the professor’s back. An important thing to note about TAs is that some are a lot better than others. A professor will usually have multiple teaching assistants even if there is only one assigned to your section or time slot of the class. It can be hard to muster the courage, but if your TA isn’t helpful, you can absolutely ask another TA for that class to meet with you. Chances are that there will be someone connected to the class who can help. You just might have to do a little digging to find the right person.

Most TAs are graduate or PhD students. That means they are likely to understand how the material needs to be learned because they are still trying to learn it all themselves. They might even give you some tips on how they managed to swallow all of the material.

It can also happen that a professor in a small class without any TAs isn’t very helpful. When that happens, it’s important to address the problem with a department head. It’s better not to do this alone, though. If you are struggling with something, someone else probably is too. Multiple people saying the same things carries a lot more weight than one person alone. It may seem futile, but it can make a big difference.

Success in college has more variables than success in high school did. That’s part of the learning experience, though. Not only do you have to learn the material, you also have to learn how to study it, how to get along with your professors, and how to circumnavigate professors when necessary. It can be frustrating, to be sure, but the skills and confidence you gain in the process are worth the annoyance.

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