Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Very cool.

All this time, I thought that it was other academics reading my blog, and it turns out at least one student is, too! Even better than that- she asked for some advice!

Here is her question:
I had a personal issue arise that will be bringing me out of state for my first week of classes.
I don't start for another week and want my professors ASAP to know that I'm not a slacker and plan on bringing the books w/ me out of town to look over and if I can get a copy of the syllabus that would be great. They are all entry level classes, I'm returning to school in a different state than I started with much different standards.

Is it that simple, just to say that? I'm not looking for the best BS to make up or anything.
I just want to say it in the best possible way.

My response:
You are in an interesting situation- that's great that you see it as a something that should be approached delicately so as not to offend your professors. There's no easy answer, though. I think everyone will have a different response to it, so it's hard to give advice on the best approach. I actually would like to post part of your email on my blog so I can get feedback from others if you don't mind. (just let me know)*she consented.

If it were my class, here is the advice I would give: you want to be sure not to seem too demanding about your absence. If you can go and see your profs in person before leaving that would be great. Getting emails from students before the class starts requesting materials because they have to miss the first week is usually not a favorite. Instead of asking for the syllabus to be emailed- ask if it will be posted online (or on Blackboard or WebCT). Ask if you need to purchase any items in addition to your textbook. If you have to do it that way, just don't ask for a lot of things from the professor. When you do get back, go see them in person (not just 5 minutes before class) to let them know that you tried to keep up while away (but don't ask for lecture notes- you can get those from a classmate). When you come back from your trip, if you make it clear that you are serious about your classes when you get back, any misgivings your professors might have had should evaporate. You don't need to be overly apologetic- just be straightforward.

If anyone else has suggestions for this reader, please comment below. Thanks!


USJogger said...

I think the key idea is that you take responsibility for your own work. If you come back having done some work, and, after a little help, can do well on the assignments, then all is well. If you come back totally blank, and expect the professor to recreate everything that you've missed, and to extend a bunch of deadlines, and to overlook your F on the first exam, then you won't get much sympathy. I've had both types of students, so when someone comes to me with a problem, I can't tell what type they are. I have to wait and see how they do after the absence is over. I suspect that you are the first type, because otherwise you wouldn't be worried about it. You'd just look for "the best BS to make up."

Eddie said...

I'd say as long as you show some personal responsibility, you will get the same respect back. You might want to be prepared for facing various instructors' attentance policies, though. Unless there's a death or other emergency like that, I stick to my attendance policy no matter what.