The care and treatment of college professors College Life / Suddenly Single

Hello everyone:

While I am on a roll here (having spent the last two weeks talking about college), let’s talk about how to approach your professor to ask a question about your grades.

Let’s say that you got a grade that you didn’t like- it happens pretty often, though maybe not with you. The first thing you should not do is YELL at your professor. No, we are not here to flunk as many students as possible, we are here to help you learn the subject we are teaching.

intimidation is a bad thing and will not endear you to your instructor. Do not send a nasty email to your professor and do not find out his or her boss’ phone number and demand he or she be fired. If you request that the instructor call you, do not save the number to use in the future to call the instructor in the middle of the night to say that your WiFi is not working. We are not coming over to fix it.

How should you talk to the instructor? Respect is vital to a successful outcome. Ask your professor if you can schedule some time to discuss why you got the grade you did. Perhaps your teacher can talk to you right then, though you have to understand that teachers frequently instruct back-to-back classes and may not be available until later that day or week.  Unless this is the end of the term, you may have to wait a couple of days.

When you do get the opportunity to talk with the professor, ask for clarification on what the assignment’s shortcomings were that resulted in the grade. BE POLITE, though do not be Eddie Haskell polite (this is a cultural reference to Leave It To Beaver, a 1960s television show).

Explain your side of the story as calmly as possible, keeping in mind that your professor may have explained the assignment in full on the day that you skipped class or were tardy. If that is the case, it is not the teacher’s fault that you messed up.

I have been known to re-visit a grade or two in my time, but I never ever adjust a grade if someone is mean or nasty.  And, yes, I do keep a record in my files on how a student behaves in class. You do not want me to write “witch on a broom” next to your name or “liar, liar, pants on fire,” either. If I write either of those comments or anything else similar on my personal file on your class, you will not ever be able to get a letter of recommendation from me for that scholarship or job you want. Food for thought.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.


  1. Of course, what a fantastic site and illuminating posts, I will bookmark your blog.Best Regards!

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