“Please send in my final grade A.S.A.P.” That’s part of an email I received from a student yesterday. He explained that he needed to send his transcripts to his transfer school by May 20th. MC’s final grades are due on May 18th, something I informed my students about via email on Monday. Such emails are common at the end of the year, especially for students that are transferring or need to report grades to scholarship foundations as part of qualifying for funding. I must admit, though, that the email really annoyed me; I’m already aware of my school’s grade submission deadline and I’m grading the many final compositions I have received this weekend in accordance with that deadline. I don’t need students breathing down my neck too. Students can be demanding — they often ask for their papers one weekend after they’ve turned them in — but demands at the end of the semester are especially bothersome. We are all aware that the end is near, and we professors are just as busy as the students are, if not more so. The email I received yesterday is the only one of its kind, so I am counting that as a success. It does disturb me though that some students think it is all right to try to hurry a professor along. Considering I would have never dared to send any of my professors such a ludicrous email — “Hurry up! I need my grade ASAP!” — I have to wonder where some students learn that sending such emails is acceptable. I shared my dismay yesterday with colleagues, and one of them sent me “25 Manners Every Kid Should Know by Age 9,” which was published by Parents.com on May 3, 2011, just in time for the end of the school year. The list is a great reminder of the various ways we can say please, excuse me, and thank you, but I dare say we need to create a few explicit rules for students. Here are five manners college students should know by freshman year. Please feel free to add more.
1. Salutation. When the teacher or professor begins by greeting the class with “good morning” or “good afternoon,” respond in kind. It creates rapport between the two of you and sets the tone for the rest of the hour. At the end of class, when he/she wishes you a good day, thank him/her and offer the same.
2. Attention. When the teacher is speaking, he/she is speaking to you, for your benefit. To avoid any distractions, keep your phone in your pocket or in your book bag, not on your desk and not in your lap. This means no texting or Facebook while class is in session.
3. Consideration. Take notes during lectures and if you have questions, write them down on your notes so that when the professor finishes his/her lecture and asks if there are any questions, you will be ready. This is preferred to interrupting the professor mid-lecture.
4. Patience. Papers and grades are important to you and your professor, but remember your professor has to read and grade 25 or more papers. Grading takes time, so please refrain from asking about your papers the Monday (or day) after you have submitted yours. Similarly, refrain from sending an email at the end of the semester urging your professor to submit your final grade as soon as possible.
5. Requests and Gratitude. If you wish to request a recommendation letter, please do so at least 1-2 months in advance, not a week or a few days in advance. After you have received your letter, you may send a handwritten thank you note. This is sufficient and acceptable; gifts are not necessary and perhaps even inappropriate. This is also true at the end of the semester: a thank you note and a thank you handshake are always appreciated.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy the rest of your day.