Knock Knock Knock: Professor?

I stumbled upon the blog of one of my Political Science professors yesterday. I’m not sure why I was surprised that she had a blog since she was always telling us we should follow her on Twitter, but I was.  I’m not going to name the professor or the blog, but her blog is the inspiration for this post. While looking through her posts I found quite a few on talking to professors – not surprising since she is one of the undergraduate advisors for the Political Science department (and the one of my choice personally).

I freely admit that I’m one of those students who goes to her professor as a last resort. It’s nothing against the professor, I’ve actually been one of those lucky few who has liked all of my professors so far. My reluctance to go speak with them has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me – what can I say, I’m a wimp. I’ve been to talk to all of 3 of the professors I’ve had at university so far – out of the 16 different professors I’ve had. One I went to talk to because he required us all to discuss our paper topics with him, one was the professor who sparked this post and I talked to her in an advising capacity as I wanted to know what Political Science classes were being offered this year, and the third is my current Inter-religious History of Europe (History 388) professor and I daresay he’ll be seeing a lot of me this term.

That’s not to say I haven’t spoken to any of the others, but I’ve only approached them after class, never in their office hours. Sometimes I don’t go to their office hours just because they make everything really clear, and in classes with TAs I can often get any questions cleared up by the TAs instead of having to go to the professor, but there are times I’ve regretted not getting up the guts to go talk to them.

I’m aware they are people just like us, and that they’ve most likely stood exactly where we are right now, but I still find approaching them intimidating at times. They stand in front of me 2 or 3 times a week and lecture about concepts that I know I’m only beginning to grasp and I think that I must have my questions worded perfectly in order to go talk to them. It’s often this stage that stops me. I spend so much time trying to figure out how to word my questions so that I don’t feel like I will come off like an idiot that I never end up going.

A perfect example of this was my Political Theory class last semester. I’ve mentioned that I’m terrible at theory, in fact I got my lowest university grade yet in it. There were a few times I thought I should go talk to him about my midterm or the assignment, but I never did because I could never figure out how to ask him about my issues in the class without being vague and all I could think was that he would be thinking how did this girl even make it this far? Would he have thought that? Probably not. I know that in my head, but I worried about it anyway.

I probably would not even be going to the office hours for my History 388 professor if I thought I could get through the assignments without it. The material in that class is fine and it all makes sense, but it’s the assignments (especially this historiography due on the 10th) that are throwing me for a curve ball.

I don’t know if fear is quite the right word for what my professors inspire in me, but awe seems a bit too strong. I just always feel like if I don’t have all my questions ready to go then why should I be wasting their time? After all, their time is valuable.

I guess it’s just something I need to get over, but I’m not really sure how to go about that. Am I the only one who feels this way? And how do I get over it? Any ideas?

– Kali

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4 thoughts on “Knock Knock Knock: Professor?

  1. I feel the same way, don’t worry. I’m always nervous when it comes to talking with professors; I feel like, if I’m not having any problems, I shouldn’t disturb them so they could help someone else who desperately needs to talk to them. I’m slowly trying to open up more to my profs, but my anxiety likes to get in the way. XD; It’s a gradual process, though. Also, as my prof would say in one of my classes, there is no such thing as a stupid question–well, as long as it’s not ‘What’s our homework?’ or ‘What’s on the syllabus?’. XD;

    • Well said. I would like to hope my questions aren’t that bad so I tend to triple check the syllabus before even considering going to talk to them.

      The sad thing is that I’m just as nervous with the profs I absolutely adore as I am with the ones I simply like. Sigh.

      – Kali

  2. Aaron says:

    I wish I could help you with that Kali – sadly, I’m third year and I still encounter the same issues . Although it helped a bit when i observed a prof just before going to talking to him doing remarkably little but playing around on his laptop. Knowing that he wasn’t always doing important work made it a little better feeling to interrupt his day to ask a question .

    good luck on the attempting to get better at this!

    • Thanks Aaron. Even though some of my profs have said they get lonely in their office hours I still can’t bring myself to disturb them. I guess practice will just have to make, well, probably not perfect, but maybe better?

      – Kali

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