Professional college relationships on a student-to-professor level can be challenging. According to some researchers, over half of the faculty (55%) can intensely dislike a student.
The most common causes of this strained relationship include poor academic performance, disrespect, and classroom disruption. If you are like most students, when confronted with a difficult subject matter you will wonder: “how can I have someone do my assignment for me” and try to get someone to write your work online. Your professor might disagree with this, despite it being completely okay in most scenarios.
Strained college relationships hardly go well. They often lead to negative emotions, reduced teaching effectiveness, and poor professor-student interactions. If you’ve found yourself in such a scenario, this is how you can deal with it.
Reflect on Your Behavior
First, take a pause and reflect on your behavior. There are different personalities and emotions within the college and classroom environment. Often, they don’t naturally mix.
Professors always have reasons that might trigger them to dislike a student. Primarily, it has to do with your behavior and how they perceive it in class. This perception might also be informed by something going on in their lives or yours that is out of each party’s control.
However, you can start with a few basics.
- Do you use your phone while in class?
- Do you talk while they’re talking?
- Are you meeting their academic standards?
What you think is not a problem might be offensive to your professor, which might cause animosity. Also, remember that students and professors are re-adjusting to in-person teaching after more than a year on Zoom, where the interactions and disruptions were very different.
If you’ve reflected well on your behavior, you might realize that all you need to do to stop the animosity is put your phone away or not talk while the professor is lecturing.
Ask Other Students How They’re Feeling
Most students feel targeted when a professor gives them the cold shoulder. However, before you call out the professor or request a different class with the faculty, ask your classmates whether they share similar sentiments.
Your professor might not be singling you out. That might be their personality.
However, you need to approach this tactfully. Most students will take this question sensitively, so frame the question in a non-accusatory manner. You can try something like, “I’ve noticed Professor Jay is slightly lukewarm towards me. Is he normally like this?”
A tactful approach will reduce the chances of gossip and provide you with the answers you’re looking for.
Check Whether It Has to Do with Your Grades
Research shows that 36.5% of U.S. college students attribute their dip in academic performance to stress. If you have a strained relationship with your professor, you might be part of this statistic.
Professors commonly give harsh comments and feedback if a test or assignment is poorly done. However, when students take criticism and bad grades as targeted, it creates animosity between them and the professor.
If you’re in such a situation, first seek feedback from an impartial third party. Listen to what they have to say and assess whether the grading and feedback were valid. Often, you’ll find that the professor was trying to give constructive feedback and help you improve your grades.
Working with this refreshed attitude will help you build a drive to improve and ease the tension.
You can also muster the courage and approach your professor directly to understand what their feedback means and how you can improve.
Communicate Your Concerns with The Professor
It is hard to pinpoint what may be causing the tension between you and your professor. Even with feedback and opinions from your classmates or peers, the best way to know is by asking your professor directly.
However, you need to use the right approach.
Poor communication is also a trigger. Most professors prefer professional communication from students, whether it is through email or text. For instance, you should avoid writing phrases or sentences in short form and properly introduce yourself at the beginning of the conversation.
Alternatively, you can head to their office and request a short meeting to discuss your tense relationship. However, most professors prefer their students to communicate first via email before they can have a one-on-one meeting.
Openly communicating your concerns will increase the likelihood of dealing with the perceived bad blood between you and your professor. Ensure that you keep your emotions in control throughout the conversation and approach it with an objective mind for better results.
Get a Tutor
Sometimes the “bad” thing about your professor is that they don’t explain concepts too well to understand. In such cases, finding a tutor to help you understand the course content will help improve your grades and, ultimately, your relationship with the professor.
You can get access to numerous tutors on campus. Most campuses also have a tutoring center where you can get help on the coursework you need. Alternatively, you can ask around in your dorm or apartment if someone is willing to help.
However, make sure that you’ve assessed your understanding of the professor’s content as early as possible to get the best results from your tutor. No matter how good they are, they’ll only be able to help you significantly improve your grades if you seek their help early enough.
Team Up with Your Classmates
You might not be the only one struggling to understand your professor’s teaching, personality, and approach to schoolwork. If you have classmates who share similar sentiments, consider teaming up to overcome the classroom challenges.
You can organize a weekly study group to discuss what was taught, organize tests among yourselves, and peer mark each other’s tests and papers. Study groups tend to have better results than individual reading at home.
Sometimes the bad blood between you and your professor is irreparable. One option is to switch classes and deal with a different professor. When it gets to this point, find out with the registrar when the deadline is for changing classes and if other professors are teaching the same class.
Switching classes is an easy process. However, you’ll be out of luck if you miss the deadline.
If you cannot switch the class, you can opt to drop it and take it with a different professor next semester. Most colleges and universities assign different professors to the classes for large lecture classes. Each professor teaches at a different time during the semester.
In such cases, you can attend the lectures for the other professors and maintain your class plus the original seminar/discussion section. The textbook, syllabus, and assignment are usually identical. Having multiple professors will allow you to sample the teaching style of each and decide which one suits your learning style best.
Don’t Be Hasty to Find a Way Through
Perhaps the hardest decision you can make is simply going through the semester and tolerating the animosity between you and your professor. You can still be the best student in class despite the bad blood.
When it comes down to this, accept that some people can be difficult, and their behavior has little to do with you. Instead, they’re going through stuff they don’t have complete control over.
In some cases, that is just their personality.
No matter the route you decide to take, ensure you’ve exhausted all options and carefully thought through your decision. Maybe you’re the one who has to make a few behavioral changes.