Getting Help From An Unapproachable Professor
College is vastly different from high school in that your professors actually command a lot of respect especially if they have several patents or accolades under their belt. Just because a professor had a ton of experience in the field you are learning about, does not make them a great teacher. Typically these professors are the worst. They are just there to do research and teaching a class is a side-effect of the job.
I can recall one professor that I had while in college that had developed some hush-hush algorithms for the department of defense. This guy was absolutely brilliant. When he showed us his source code (this was a computer science class), it was brilliant. If you had any sense of programming, you could look at his code and tell that he knew what he was doing. Great so my professor could write really good code but do you thing he could teach??? No way.
This college professor in particular, had the social skills of a brick wall. I often went to visit him during “office hours” and the conversation was very rarely about the class and more often than not about his cat or some off the wall concept he had come up with. So going to get help from him seemed futile. He really was just too intelligent to converse with the average man. But I did finally find a way to interact with him.
Not that this will work for every college professor, but I did find that inquiring about his work history at the department of defense did tend to help focus the conversation. I would ask about how great it was to work for the government and then sneak in a question about last weeks homework. He loved to talk about himself and the question about the homework just seemed to catch him right when he was in a good mood.
So I’m not sure if this technique would work all the time but definitely get to know your professors. Sometimes putting a face to the name is all it takes to improve your grades. Sometimes teachers just want to know that you are putting forth a valiant effort in their class. If you show that you are honestly trying they typically will give you a better grade. No professor wants one of their students to fail, no matter how overly intelligent they are or how socially awkward they might seem. So get to know them and ask for help if you don’t understand something. Most of the time they are actually glad to see that you are concerned about your grade in their class. But if it really doesn’t help seeing you professor at office hours, consider getting a math tutor. It will probably be more beneficial than office hours.
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