Ask a Prof: Answering your student-life questions
Credit: DYLAN CHARETTE
Advice: Let your Prof know why you prefer to sit in the back of the class so they can get to know you better.
Ask a Prof is a new monthly column for Interrobang readers who have questions and would prefer to ask them in a safe space with zero consequences. I expect that many of your questions will be college-y in nature, but they don’t have to be. Feel free to ask anything! If a question is taking up space in your brain, you know that it’s likely on other readers’ minds as well.
The Prof you’ll be asking is me - my name is Jim and I’m in my fifth year of teaching in the School of Information Technology’s office administration program. I can freely admit that I don’t have the answers to all of your questions, but my commitment to you is that when I don’t know the answer, I’ll seek out the people who do.
To get us started, here are a few of the questions students have already asked me this semester. To have your questions answered, please fill out the form at theinterrobang.ca/ask-prof.
I’m a quiet person and I prefer to sit in the back of the class. Other students sit at the front of the class and answer lots of questions. Will I get a lower mark if I don’t participate?
Signed: Silence is Golden
You have a valid concern and my advice is to communicate with your Prof. Let her/him know why you choose to sit in the back and that it’s absolutely not an indication of how engaged you are. Discuss other ways that you can demonstrate your commitment to the course. Keep in mind that there may come a time when you’d like your Prof to write you a reference letter. I’ve declined requests for a reference for students who I didn’t know very well, even if they excelled in my class. So, if answering questions or volunteering to go to the front of the class aren’t your thing, chat with your Prof and find some other ways to show her/him just how awesome you are.
I had an accommodation in high school but I want to try to manage without one in college. Any advice?
Signed: New Way for a New Day
This tough decision calls for a ‘help me/ hurt me’ approach.
Can establishing an accommodation hurt you? If you’re concerned that someone will learn about accommodation, well, only your counsellor needs to know any specifics and what you share with them is confidential. You can rest assured that your diploma/degree/ certificate won’t divulge that you had an accommodation - nor will any of the grades on your transcript have an asterisk next to them. Only you, your counsellor and your Profs will be aware of your accommodation and you can even choose which Profs are made aware. Since it’s up to you when and where you use the accommodation, you may go through your entire College career without ever asking a Prof to accommodate you. So, no real downside there.
Can establishing an accommodation help you? What happens if during midterms, you realize that it would’ve been helpful to already have an accommodation in place? At that time, many students are coming to the same conclusion, so it’ll be tough to get a quick counselling appointment. As stress levels rise, the situation may start taking a toll on your physical and/or mental health. So yes, having an accommodation in place can definitely help you.
My advice? Visit Counselling and Accessibility Services to discuss the process with the experts.
Is eating pizza bad for me?
Signed: Pepperoni Pete
Even though I teach in the School of IT, I’m not a big fan of binary choices — good/ bad, chocolate/vanilla, coffee/tea — they’re way too limiting. When it comes to food, I prefer to think in terms of effect. Ask yourself what effect eating pizza has on you. Will it hurt your stomach or keep you up at night? Will it leave you dying of thirst for 3 days, or so comatose that you can’t open a textbook? Even if you answered yes to some of these questions, don’t despair. You can still eat pizza, but you definitely have to stop complaining about how it makes you feel, ‘cuz you knew it would. Maybe next time you’ll just choose a better time to eat it — like at breakfast, for example!