Getting ready for the new semester: Making use of crutches College Life / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

There is an old saying that you only need crutches if you have an injury. But I would argue that crutches (like the ones I will be talking about) can come n handy even if you aren’t aware that you have a problem.

One crutch is the willingness of your professor to review a document before you submit it. If a student brings in an essay or other assignment one week before it is due, I am more than happy to look over it and offer guidance. Is this a crutch? Maybe, but my students who do this oftentimes find their grades are stellar. Interestingly enough, the ones most likely to take advantage of this offer are the ones who need the least amount of help. Sadly, the students who never take me up on this offer are the ones who are failing.

Another crutch is to take and actually use the feedback the professor gives you. I have students to whom I have given very detailed feedback only to find that they completely ignore it and “do their own thing.” If you were a bride-to-be who wanted pink carnations at her wedding and the florist delivered orange mums because “the florist thought they would look better,” how upset would that bride be? The instructor has spent hours building the class as he or she wants it. It is not your job to tell the prof that your way of doing the assignment is better. Part of the assignment is your ability to follow the instructions, whether you like them or not.

Another crutch is asking the professor to clarify the assignment instructions. Now, it is important to show the instructor that you have at least read the instructions before you ask for help. It is also vital that you not wait until 11:00 pm the night something is due to ask for clarification. Believe it or not, I am not online at that hour of the night. I find that students who wait that late to ask are in a panic. They couldn’t understand the instructions if they tried because their vision is blurred by the panic they feel.

So, I hope you see that crutches can come in handy, even if you think you don’t need them.


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.

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