As the spring semester kicks off, the know-it-all butt kissers are wiping the dust off their tired lips, ready to compliment their way to a 4.0. We’ve all seen the kid in class who can’t seem to shut their mouth or insists on asking the professor about their personal life in the middle of a lecture, but have we ever really stopped to ask: is that actually working?
I’ll let you in on a little secret: no it isn’t. Sucking up to professors does not actually help you get an A. In fact, you’re probably hurting your own grade by focusing more on making the professor like you than actually getting the work done. As I start my final lap this semester, I look back on the strategies I once used in hopes of receiving a better grade. I’m here to give you a few tips on what does and doesn’t work in terms of sucking up. From freshmen to seniors, these tips will help keep those lips clean and GPA high.
DON’T ASK YOUR PROFESSOR ABOUT THEIR PERSONAL LIFE
While it may be true that nearly all people enjoy talking about themselves to some degree, there is a time and place to discuss personal matters — a piece of advice: before, during and right after class is not that the time nor the place. Professors would much rather be answering a student’s question about homework or upcoming tests than talking about how beautiful the hand painted magnet is that their daughter created in her first grade class earlier that day. If you really think that knowing about that magnet could be the difference between that A- and A, then email the professor on your own time. At least in that instance, you’ll be able to see pictures.
DON’T DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION JUST TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Professors give out tests for a reason: to test how much you’ve learned. To truly impress a professor, use the appropriate medium, like a test or open classroom discussion, to show that you ditched the Wal on a Thursday to study. Don’t be that guy that stops others from contributing just so you can show your abilities to recite every assigned Bible reading from that week. Your professor holds classroom discussions to gain insight from all students in the class, not to give the know-it-alls the time to show off the fact that they do, in fact, know it all.
DON’T BEG YOUR PROFESSOR FOR EXTRA CREDIT OR MAKE-UP ASSIGNMENTS
Thanks to the Nevada System of Higher Education, professors are forced to spend hours crafting a perfect syllabus that explains the assignments for the semester. If the syllabus doesn’t say that the professor offers extra credit, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the bold claim that it’s probably because the professor doesn’t want to give you extra credit. If your class is truly hard enough, professors will take the necessary steps to curve tests, give extra-credit opportunities and provide make-up assignments. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you didn’t do the work then you don’t deserve the grade. Not to mention, although I can’t prove this, I’m guessing that professors tend to look at the tests of the extra-credit mongers with a slightly more critical eye.
DO USE YOUR PROFESSOR’S OFFICE HOURS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
This piece of advice seems pretty obvious. You’re told since day one of your freshman orientation that it is highly recommended to visit your professor during their office hours, and yet, few students seem to actually take advantage of this easy strategy to get the professor on your team. Even if you have no specific questions, go in and talk to your professor about “Frozen” or how disappointing the teams are for this year’s Super Bowl. Sure, I may be exaggerating a bit, but professors are often bored to death by sitting in Starbucks from 5-7 every Tuesday and Thursday. If you show the professor that you actually think about their class between meeting times, they will everything in their power to help you. Don’t believe me? You can tell it to my A in core humanities 203.
DO READ ALL OF THE ASSIGNMENT HANDOUTS THAT YOUR PROFESSOR GIVES TO THE CLASS
You would be shocked by how often professors receive questions that were specifically explained in the handouts for the class. Professors take the horrific risk of developing carpal tunnel each year, typing endless handouts with the intention of you actually reading them. For that reason, it is one of the most annoying things to professors when students frantically ask how many words are required for the essay that is clearly titled, “500 word response on Kermit the Frog in the Muppets Movie.” Save yourself some time and embarrassment and read the instructions fully before shooting your hand in the air. Your professor will thank you — maybe not directly, but you’ll feel their appreciation as they mean mug the kid next to you who wasn’t as smart as you to read the school newspaper.
Daniel Coffey studies journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.