If you really want to frustrate and annoy your instructors, don’t take my advice on this. In fact, just skip over the post altogether. You’ll learn eventually. 😉
You may be wondering, “I thought it’s best to ask my professor questions when I’m unclear on something. You’re saying I shouldn’t?”
No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. Don’t jump to conclusions. Read on…
There are certain questions that should never leave your mouth – at least not until you’ve read the entire syllabus to see if the answer is included (it probably is). All you’re going to do is embarrass yourself or give your instructor a migraine if the information you asked about is clearly outlined in the syllabus.
6 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Instructor Before Reading The Syllabus
1. When is it due?
Did you read the syllabus? This is such basic information that it will be included in most – if not all – syllabi. If your class gets off schedule or another assignment is added, I promise you that your instructor will be clear on the new deadlines.
2. How many pages are required?
This is either usually included on the syllabus or it is outlined in the instructions if you are given a separate sheet of paper explaining what the assignment is. If it’s not stated anywhere, listen while the assignment is being explained to you. Someone will inevitably ask for the page requirement. However, if no one does, this is a fair question.
Don’t be surprised if the omitting of a page requirement was on purpose, though. Some instructors will not set a page limit because they want their students to be able to freely write about the topic and not worry about the page count.
That can be scary. How am I supposed to know when to stop? Well, if you’re anything like me and hate blue book exams, you will stop once the information required has been covered. Some students will go more in-depth, and others will do the bare minimum. It’s your choice to make – especially when there’s no amount of pages required. Just make sure you’re hitting on all of the pieces that are required of you.
3. Do you give extra credit?
Again… read your syllabus. If the instructor gives extra credit, it will be listed there. Not all professors will give you opportunities for extra credit, though.
If you took one of my classes, you would quickly find out there are no extra points. Students use extra credit as a safety net. Learn the material that you read about and that is presented in class, and you will not need any extra credit to help you get through the course. College takes work.
4. Do you accept late assignments?
I know you’re getting sick of reading this, but READ. THE. SYLLABUS.
I was an instructor who would only accept 1 assignment late. (I realize Life happens.) My students got a coupon included on their syllabi and could redeem it (excluding midterm and final) for any assignment to receive full credit. The only rule was that the assignment needed to be given to me before the next class period. I only had a couple of students redeem their coupons; everyone else turned in everything on time.
I’ve never understood why some instructors will be super lenient and accept assignments weeks later, etc. All it does is set the student up for failure. I’ve seen it happen multiple times.
It’s a snowball effect – you get behind in one class so that you can focus on another subject’s test. Then you work to catch up in the first class and get behind in two others. Don’t let it happen to you.
You can’t let your assignments build up like that – it’s so hard to dig yourself out of the avalanche that you’re buried under from procrastinating. My students were successful in part because I didn’t allow them to skate by and do things on their own timeline – because I know that’s a recipe for disaster almost every single time.
Each professor is different, and policies about late assignments should be clearly outlined for you.
5. Will this be on the test?
Why would you even ask this? (Rhetorical question – I know why.) While I was a college student, instructors were asked this question more times than I care to admit. Every time I heard the question, I cringed. haha
If it’s covered in the readings, assignments, or in class – it’s fair game for the test. All this question does is help you figure out what you do and don’t have to study. If you learn all of the material, you should be confident going into the exam. Don’t ask this question. The instructors I’ve talked to get annoyed by it. Don’t be that student who annoys your instructor. 🙂
If I had to rate the questions you should never ask your instructor, this would probably be #1. Not only does it annoy your instructor, but it doesn’t do you any good to skate by on the bare minimum. Know your stuff.
Would you want a doctor to only study things that were going to be on the medical exam they take to get licensed? I would want mine to know as much about everything as possible. You may not be studying to become a doctor, but what about a construction engineer? I would want someone who designed bridges to know what they are doing!
6. Did I miss anything important?
You were absent. Talk to a classmate instead of your instructor if you absolutely need to ask this question. Asking your instructor if you missed anything important is like saying, “You don’t always teach important information.”
The bottom line is – you missed information by not attending class. Did you think your professor stood up in front of the classroom because he/she had nothing better to do? That question is very offensive, and for good reason! In my opinion, this should be near the top of your list of questions you should never ask your instructor. I only put it last on this list for emphasis.
This is a real life example that one of my friends posted on facebook. She’s a college instructor. See? What I’m telling you here is the truth… not all questions need to or should be asked. 😉
For most students, this is the advice they will never receive from someone. I hope you take it to heart.
I am not trying to discourage you from asking your instructor questions. If it’s not in the syllabus, then ask! Professors like to be asked questions – they are there to teach you. Chances are – if you have a question about something, so does someone else in the class. They will be relieved you have the courage to raise your hand.
What other questions do you think should be on this list? Leave me a comment!