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How To Get Along With Your College Instructor

How To Get Along With Your College Instructor

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How To Get Along With Your College Instructor

If you're going to start college soon, chances are you're going to be seeing the same instructor for 30 minutes or more for the next few months.

An angry or an irritated instructor is the last thing you want; your instructor is the person with the grade book. Besides, all teachers, professors and instructors enter their career for a genuine love of teaching students who are there to eagerly learn and participate in the course.

Every Instructor is different and you should learn to recognize or simple ask them what they want from their students so that you can successfully get along with each one. On the other hand, there are certain behaviors and activities that should be avoided by students. To carry out the list of behaviors on the No No list will frustrate instructors and label you as a Problem Student.

Some of the No Nos are simply disrespectful to both the instructor and your fellow students; everyone should know better than to perform them. Other things listed may be items your not aware of until they are pointed out to you the first dozen times. In hopes of avoiding 10 out of 12 reminders, read the list of Instructor Pet Peeves.

Always late

It gets to the point where you're expected to be late and as such, the class begins without you. It is not your instructor's responsibility or his / her obligation to tell you what you missed in class until you arrived, so don't ask. This is distracting to the instructor and the students. If there's a good reason why you're going to be late, let the instructor know. Occasional lateness happens but consecutive lateness is just laziness.

Failing to come to class regularly

This falls along the same lines as always being late - don't do it.

Appointments with your instructor

Do not blow off appointments that you have set with your instructor. He /she have countless other appointments that are not only curriculum based but also professional and personal. An appointment you blew off could be the time that they postponed picking up their car from the mechanics or spending time with family members or possibly finding out about a pay raise from the school. You may not care about these things and you may care less rather they missed a little family time... However your instructor is a very busy person and they will remember this come grade time.

Not quite the end of class

Shuffling papers, putting books back into your back pack, checking your cell phone for messages or missed calls and a few other annoying tid bits of activity before class has officially ended - rude.


Who doesn't get annoyed by whiney people? Instructors are no different. Students who whine about the amount of assignments or even the subject of a project give the impression that they are lazy. If you feel you must complain, don't. Go to the instructor after class and bring up a complaint you have and do so as respectfully as possible. To start complaining to your instructor will only annoy him / her and you won't get the result you were hoping for. Also, don't question the work done in class; it wouldn't be assign if it didn't have some kind of relevance. If you would like to know why that particular project was assigned wait until after class and ask respectfully.

Text Messaging

Was it allowed in high school? For those who had text messaging in high school (yes some of us are from the paper, pencil and throw days), it was a rule and in college it's just plain disrespectful to your instructor. To do so, tells your instructor that they're boring, I don't want to pay attention or I don't want to be here. While any or all of those may be true, your instructor will remember the incidents and it will affect your grade. You are paying for an education and rather or not the subject is something your interested in, it is a subject that requires a passing grade.

Reading in class

The only thing you should be reading in class is the class required reading. This is a no tech activity that has been annoying instructors and teachers for ages before both you and I were ever born.

Cell phones

Here is where you can prepare before it happens.

1) Make sure your cell phone is always on vibrate while in class. No one wants to hear the latest & greatest Top Ring Tone playing in class; most of all, your instructor.

2) If you know you must take an important call but you don't know when it will arrive...Ask your instructor before class if you could quietly exit the room when the call comes in. This will not only warn your instructor that you may need to leave for a moment but it will show respect to your instructor and his / her teaching.

If they say they do not want any interruptions during class including you leaving the room for a few moments, than accept it. Turn your phone off or apologize to your instructor and let him / her know that you will unfortunately be skipping today's class because this is a call you can not miss and you do not want to be disrespectful.


Don't wear clothes that may offend your instructor or other students. Always remember that the instructor is the one who will be grading you and your work. Within the same lines, don't have a lack of clothing either; this isn't the beach.

Non-Class Dialogue

Talking to other students wasn't allowed in high school and again it is not allowed here. Talking to anther student while you think your being sly or even respectful isn't. It will annoy other students and the Problem Student label will start floating towards you if you try to get away with it.

Ill mannered remarks

If you know more than the instructor than become an instructor. In class, instructors despise students who challenge their authority or simple think they know more than the instructor. If you believe your instructor is incorrect in a statement either wait until after class to bring it up with them or present it as a question in class as a discussion. Example: "Mr. Teach - I thought that the government recently approved a law that said X could no longer be done, was it not approved?"

Be prepared

Don't turn in messy or crumbled papers, it shows that you don't care about the work and you don't take it seriously. Make sure your papers are stapled neatly (unless told not to) and keep your work in a folder to prevent it from having the slept on look.
Before starting a class - any class... Make sure you have all the supplies. Pens, pencils, ruler, stapler, binder, books and so forth.

Know what is going on

Don't ask what is going on in class, you will look dim-witted and interrupting the class is not only rude but disrespectful. Don't ask ridiculous, childish or off-topic questions. Follow the syllabus and all will be happy.

Additional help

Take a few seconds after class and ask your instructor if you could schedule an appointment for additional help in the subject.
1) This will show your instructor that you are truly interested in learning the subject.
2) It will show your instructor that you understand that they have a busy schedule
3) It will demonstrate a willingness to go out of your way to ensure you want to understand the subject.

Never tell the instructor you went to his/her office for help, but that he/she wasn't there or is never there. Instructors do not sit around waiting for their students to pop in with class questions.

Tests, assignments & general exams

Don't claim that you did not know X was due; instructors are very good at informing the students of deadlines. Besides, up to 100 other people had the same due date as you did and it's going to be pretty tough convincing anyone that you were not told of the date but 100 other people were.

Reading assignments

College is preparation for business and thinking within this line of logic do not tell your instructor that you couldn't or didn't complete the assigned reading before the due date. As with above, it would be pretty tough convincing anyone that you could not complete something that everyone else was able to complete on time.

Follow the guideline

This is pretty simple... Read the guidelines and follow them. Turning in assignments that do not follow the class procedure will result in poor grades and is your fault. Every instructor may have different guidelines, so keep a copy for each class with the required class supplies. Before starting an assignment read the guidelines and than begin.

Don't use tired excuses for missed assignments. They include

  • I had to work
  • I had to pick up someone from the airport
  • I had family problems
and don't use a dead family member unless you really did have someone who died. If that is the case, email or call your instructor and let them know immediately and ask if there is a way you can make up for missed class or assignments.

Miscellaneous Don't Dos

  • Don't call the instructor's personal phone line(s) unless you have been invited to do so or it is important as with a family death.
  • Poor grammar - If you write an email, write it as if you were writing a hand written letter. Spell check it and address it correctly. Be polite, re-read it to ensure you are saying everything you want to say and delete what you don't.

You should know better but in case you don't


  • Eat your Happy Meal in class because you'll get an Un-Happy Grade Mark
  • Tell the instructor to give you a break because of who you are
  • Unless you really can't wait, use the bathroom before or after class.
  • Sleep at home, not during class
  • Complain loudly in class about the amount of work the class is assigned and especially don't say for all to hear "this isn't the only class I'm taking".

I've gone over the ways to receive bad grades, now let's go over the ways you can help yourself earn better grades.

  • Take responsibility for your education.
  • Read the elegated reading requirements and participate in class discussions
  • Know when assignments are due and turn them in on time.
  • Ask for help when needed and more than a day or two before an important test.
  • Don't make up excuses for why you arrived late. & Don't make up excuses for why your assignment is missing. If something happens, tell the truth. Chances are that if your not a habitual late arrival or missing assignment character your teacher will understand and let it slip.


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