Unreasonable professors make student life even more stressful

Some professors overlook the challenges of meeting life’s high demands

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illustration of someone with their head lying on a wooden desk, school papers flying everywhere
Professors need to understand students’ individual needs. ILLUSTRATION: Raissa Sourabh / The Peak

By: Olivia Visser, Opinions Editor

Being a student can be tough. You’ve got multiple courses on your plate, potentially on top of a part-time or full-time job. Managing hobbies, extracurriculars, a social life, and schoolwork isn’t an easy task. Some professors seem to understand this, and do their best to make your university experience more enjoyable. Others aren’t quite as accommodating, while a few seem dead-set on making your life more difficult.

Professors aren’t wrong when they say students have the responsibility to stay on top of their coursework; of course, there’s a bare minimum that should be expected in university. At the same time, professors and TAs must recognize that students lead busy lives, too. Each person’s circumstances are different and there are barriers faced by students that might be easily overlooked by experienced professors.

Disabled students face significant challenges in university. When living comfortably in our modern capitalistic society depends on landing a good career, many see post-secondary studies as their best option to achieve this goal. Some disabled students struggle with chronic pain or other debilitating symptoms on a daily basis, but they’re still expected to be as productive as everyone else.

Speaking from experience, asking for extensions can be a daunting task. I often feel like I must work through as much chronic pain as physically possible, incase I end up needing an extension even more in the future. I worry receiving too many accommodations will make it look like I’m faking, even though I’m just advocating for my needs. I’ve heard professors say things like, “it shouldn’t even take you a whole week to do this assignment, just thirty minutes,” while explaining how they won’t be giving out extensions. It’s anxiety inducing. 

Grades shouldn’t revolve around meeting deadlines and class participation. While these are important, the work a student turns in is the most accurate reflection of their learning. Neurodivergent students might be less likely to speak up in class, but that doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. To foster engagement, professors could let students hand in a few sentences or a drawing at the end of class, instead of pressuring them into speaking during class.

Others work up to 30 or more hours a week to get by, as paying for university on top of bills and necessities is costly. Students feel helpless when professors challenge them for having work schedules that conflict with school. If your boss and professors demand undivided attention, who do you prioritize? Being flexible with deadlines for working students can make a big difference. 

Some spend their entire week searching for a moment to complete schoolwork. Between transiting to and from class, working to make ends meet, and living through chronic illness, many students really are doing their best. Professors should strive to understand students’ individual needs and challenges, and work with them to foster positive learning outcomes.

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