SSU of the Month: Christie

image: Single Sisters in University

Interview Topic: How to Handle Difficult Professors?

In this interview, we’re talking about “the difficult professors”, yes, “the difficult professors”: Those that lack respect for students, don’t grade papers well, unnecessarily load students with homework/ tests, don’t care about their students, yes, those ones! These professors are frustrating and can’t keep a student from complaining, getting upset, and at times hating. So, how do we handle these professors as children of God? Let’s learn from Christie’s experience.

According to you, what makes a professor difficult?
In my opinion, a difficult professor is one who abuses students or make their academic lives unbearable for his/her own interests. This is totally different than tough love, because in this case, the professor doesn’t have the students’ welfare or best interest in mind.

You had difficult professors in your college years, how did you handle them? Did you voice your concern to him/her?
I’ve had several difficult professors both in undergrad and grad schools and I used different approaches for different professors. For example, I had a professor that just couldn’t grade well papers, sometimes he could come back to your paper after handing it and lower your grade for one reason or another, or other times, he would take ages to return papers, he was so frustrating! In this case, I would pray the Lord to give me patience with him and ignore his attitude. Another example, I had a male professor whose comments towards female students were inappropriate; in this case, I decided to avoid asking him questions or participating in his class because he was just inappropriate.
Before voicing my concern to professors, I try to survey what most students feel, if there’s a consensus that the prof is being illogically difficult, then during the class or after class, I can, or usually it’s better with other students, gently voice my concern.

Had you ever been tempted to drop a class due to a professor’s attitude?
No, most of my classes happened to fall in my core course requirement. But I think even if a professor happened to be difficult in an elective class, I think I’ll still continue to take it because the solution is not to run from the problem but find a way to deal with it. In the future, you might have a difficult boss, are you going to change jobs because of his/her attitude or learn to deal with him/her?

What did you do to avoid your professor getting the best of you?
Prayer! I’m telling you some of these professors are just agents of the devil to frustrate and distract the children of God, and if we don’t find a solution to handle them then the devil gains a foothold. Before going to class, I would always pray that the Lord give me the strength to deal with the professors and also I would, in spiritual warfare, rebuke these professors. Most of the time, these professors’ attitude need to be ignored because if not, they’ll ruin us.

Students, in general, have the tendency to badmouth their professors, how did you react to that?
That’s so true! I remember in college, I was joining my classmates to badmouth our professors, because you just can’t help it! I realized it was bad as the Word of God tells us to do everything without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14). Nonetheless, it was such a sweet temptation that I couldn’t resist at times. Now that I look back, I think it’d have been better to encourage my classmates to focus on more important things than the professor’s attitude. At the end of the day, no matter how much we gossip, the prof is not going to change, only God can change him.

Do you have any advice for SSU that have difficult professors?
I will say : Pray, pray, and pray ladies! Ask God to give you the wisdom on how to deal with each professor, as there are different measures to take on for each attitude. Ask the Lord to fight for you against this professor; engage in a spiritual warfare against this professor, because it might just be the devil using him/her to attack you. I know that it’s so tempting to go outside the class and grumble about your professor but be the positive influence among your friends to help them focus on more important things. Do not give the devil a foothold because God didn’t call us to be stressed/frustrated by men, but be sober and vigilant to do good works.

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