What To Do When You Get A Bad College Professor

12 Strategies To Help You Survive A Semester With A Terrible Professor

These will come in handy, I'm sure.


As the spring semester comes begins, we are all adjusting to new experiences. The start of a fresh semester brings about several things: new courses, new internships, new motivations, new well-rested mindsets, and new professors. Every once in a while, you get stuck with a terrible professor and I mean TERRIBLE. This professor has a glaring reputation across campus; upperclassmen tell you horror stories about this individual and the reviews on Rate My Professor are so bad that they cannot possibly be true. Unfortunately, you quickly learn that they are, indeed, true.

So, you're stuck with this terrible professor due to a schedule conflict, or the fact that this exact course is required for your degree and they are the only professor teaching it. Thus, you must tough it out. Every class that you complete is joyfully crossed off of your syllabus as you realize you are another step closer to finishing the semester where your life will be free of this terrible professor.

Here are 12 tips for you to keep in mind in order to successfully survive a semester with that terrible professor. While it will most certainly be challenging, you will be okay. Everyone has to deal with difficult people at some points in time.

1. Keep an open mind

Even though everyone on campus seems to know this professor's reputation, you should never judge until you have experienced the class yourself. Who knows... maybe you will end up liking them?

2. Maintain focus in class

While it can be easy to lose motivation and become distracted in a class where you have a not-so-great prof, you should always try your best to stay focused because you still need to do well in the class.

3. Don't believe everything you hear

So all of the horror stories and reviews on Rate My Professor may or may not be totally accurate. There really is no way for you to tell. Additionally, people are more likely to complain rather than express gratitude. In other words, if a professor is good, the chances of a student giving them great ratings or talking about them are not as high as compared to when a professor is bad.

4. Work even harder than you would in any other class

It may be very difficult to please the terrible professor, but maybe that is because they just have very high expectations or even different requirements than what the typical professor maintains for their students. As a result, you should use this challenge as a motivation to work even harder in an attempt to meet their standards. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

5. Make friends in your class

Befriending your peers in this class has two definite pros. First, you will be more motivated to go to class because you will get to see your friends. Second, you will have a few people who understand your thoughts, feelings, concerns, and frustrations about this class because they are also experiencing it firsthand.

6. Complete all of your work

Don't fall behind in the workload because that will just make the class even more unbearable.

7. Go to your professor's office hours

I know this sounds absolutely horrible especially if you are not super thrilled about taking this professor's course to begin with. However, when you are in a one-on-one setting with them, the dynamics can be very different. You may learn how to connect with this terrible professor and that can be very beneficial.

8. Prioritize self-care

This is something that you should definitely get into the habit of doing no matter what the circumstances are. Self-care is important so that you can remain in a motivated, positive mindset.

9. Remember that everyone is different

Some personalities just do not mesh. People are varied and that is okay.

10. This is not the only time that you will run into difficult people 

The world is full of difficult people, so this experience is great exposure for you to see how you choose to handle similar situations that you may be faced with.

11. Understand that professors are there to help you

They would not be a professor if they did not love the subject that they are teaching or if they did not want to impact lives in some aspect.

12. Realize that everything is a learning experience

Even if this is the worst period of your college experience and you would never want to do it again, you are learning a lot about yourself through this process. This terrible professor experience is impacting you in more ways than you may think while you are going through it.

13. You can't change the situation, but you CAN change how you react to it

This is your professor for the duration of the semester; there's no changing that. The only thing that can change is your attitude about the situation, and keeping a positive mindset about the reality of your situation can make a huge difference. Before you know it, the semester will be over!

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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I'm About To Burst, Laughing At The People Who Thought My Pregnancy Meant I Had To Drop Out Of College

I get stared at in the halls and asked if I am going to drop out. Here are ways being a pregnant student has changed my college experience.


I have been pregnant the entire time that I have been in graduate school. It was not how I planned to experience grad school, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective and will give me a lovely son (seriously, any second now). There are certain things that I did not realize about being a pregnant student until I experienced it, and maybe my experiences can help better prepare other women, or give them something to relate to since pregnant students are such a rare breed.

As a grad student and a 25-year-old, I am around the average age to have my first child in America. I am not dependent on my parents and the world does not treat me like a child anymore.

However, since I decided to pursue my master's degree, I feel that people are not used to seeing pregnant and student in the same sentence without gasping.

When I first told my father, his first reaction was to ask me if I was to going to drop out.

This became a recurrent reaction from my family and friends (which my boyfriend who is also a student was never asked once). I did not expect the hesitant reactions and it made me feel shameful to be a pregnant student. As my expecting belly grew I always noticed that people on campus would stare at my stomach.

As I walked past, their eyes followed my belly like I had a giant red felt "A" on my chest.

None of my classmates are pregnant and thinking back, I can't remember ever seeing a pregnant woman in all of my five years of college. Since none of my classmates were pregnant, I felt like I had no one to relate to. There are a lot of things that pregnancy effects, besides the baby in the tummy part. I could not go out and get drinks with my classmates and bond with them the way that they were all doing. I could not relate to them fashionably because maternity clothes are heinous. I also feel like pregnancy put up a barrier because I would have a baby eventually and will always be busy, so why bother?

Pregnancy side effects would sometimes take a toll on my school work. In the first trimester, I could barely get out of bed because I was so tired. I could easily have slept 14 hours straight and being a working student did not help. I would seep through some of my classes and had to take the hit to my attendance points. I also have "pregnancy brain." Pregnancy brain is a real thing and is not well known enough. My mind can be so scattered that I forget my friend's names while I am speaking to them. I think it is October when it is March. Pregnancy brain has made me forget that I even go to school or that I work in twenty minutes. I missed due dates or completely misread instructions on assignments. For someone who needs A's on every assignment to function, it hurt because I would never make that mistake otherwise.

There are also benefits to being a pregnant student. I am never hungover and I have never been tempted to ditch a night class for a drinking holiday.

Pregnancy has allowed me to prioritize my school work and ignore the college lifestyle.

Before I knew I was pregnant, I went with my roommates to bars in Chicago's Lincoln Park. I feel so happy knowing getting wasted from $3 shots on a Wednesday is behind me. I now truly have nothing better to do at night than complete my homework.

Another benefit is that you sometimes get special treatment. The special treatment that pregnant women get is awesome. It is my favorite part and sometimes makes me wish I could be pregnant forever. People feel obligated to wait on me hand and foot. If I drop something, people rush to pick it up. It is completely not necessary but I get to feel like a princess for a day (or 280 days). Even though I was singled out for being the only pregnant woman, I was always treated especially nicely by students and professors.

Regardless of my friends and family expecting me to drop out, I am doing phenomenal in grad school. I have received A's in every class and have loved all of my classes. Being a pregnant student can be tough, but it is totally doable. If you find yourself to be a pregnant student, don't feel discouraged. It is not ruining your college experience but allowing you to do college differently.

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