“Don’t ask for extra credit!” And other tips.

Wow. Great night Wednesday with a faculty panel on academic advice for students. Our audience was student-athletes, but our advice could apply to all students.

What struck me was the uniformity among our responses. (Plus I liked the chicken nuggets they fed us.) The profs in the room came to quick agreement on almost every issue:

  • Should I ask for extra credit? NO. Asking for extra credit is asking for a favor. All of the profs said they build in extra credit as part of their syllabi. Take advantage of those opportunities, but don’t ask for just-for-you credit. Don’t do it!

    Many thanks to my fellow panelists (left to right), Professors Dennis Phillips, Andrew Wiest, Amy Sevier, and Doug Masterson, all from Southern Miss.
  • Should I visit during office hours? YES. Profs want you to come see them. Use office hours as a way to get to know your profs. They’ll know you, know your strengths, perhaps serving later on as a mentor or even writing you a reference letter or two.
  • When should I tell you I’ll be missing class? As soon as possible.
  • Should I come to class with the flu? NO. But do go through the university channels to get an excuse.
  • I want to participate in class discussion, but I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid. What should I do? ASK QUESTIONS ANYWAY. If you’re thinking of the question, other folks are, too. Ask away, and don’t sweat it. It shows you’re interested.
  • Is Twitter considered a reputable source to cite? NO. Anybody can put anything on the internet. I joked that it was ok to quote my Twitter feed (@David_R_Davies), but I was joking. Promise.
  • How would you feel about students asking you to write them a recommendation letter? Happy to do it, but only ask me if I’d had you in class or otherwise know you pretty well. And do ask me for this favor as far in advance as possible. And give me your resume and whatever info you think I’ll need about the job/internship/whatever that I’m recommending you for.
  • I made a poor grade on a paper. How should I deal with that? Go see the professor, the earlier in the semester, the better.
  • What is your phone policy? Phones in use during class are consfiscated, dropped in acid and disintegrated, and students are given a 2005 Nokia flip-phone as a replacement. Just kidding! Phone use is HIGHLY discouraged. It’s disrespectful. Man oh man, I love my phone, so I understand the temptation to check Twitter or your email when there’s a lull in a lecture. But don’t do it. Don’t. Do. It.

Hope this proved useful. It was fun. Did I mention the chicken nuggets?

P.S. Go to class.