How Do I Deal With Condescending Professors?

11 Apr

I enjoy writing about teachers, because I find their lives outside of their jobs fascinating. Some of the best people I’ve met in my life have been teachers of mine, and so there is a soft spot in my heart for teachers as people. Yesterday, however, I had one of the worst experiences with a teacher that I’ve ever had.

Right now I’m taking Molecular and General Genetics as a senior at my university. This is the second time I’ve taken the class; the first time I took it, it was partially my own fault for not applying myself as much as I should have, partially life’s fault for throwing so much stress at me outside of school, and partially the teachers fault (how am I supposed to learn if I can’t even understand what you’re saying because your accent is too thick)? Try, try again. This semester, I was lucky enough to get a new teacher, because usually the course is only taught by one set of teachers. Everything was going alright. I got a B on my first test, which is well in the direction of not failing again. The second exam, however, was a blood bath. I failed. Well, like many other students before me, I emailed my professor to see if there was a possible way to make up my points. Here it is (only edited to exclude my actual point values and names):

Dr. H,

I’m emailing you because I’m concerned about the last exam we took. I got
xx out of xxx and I’m not entirely sure how that happened. I didn’t get
that poor of a score last time I took this class, so it doesn’t make
sense that I did worse. As you can see, I received a B on the first exam.
Regardless, I did poorly, and I was hoping it would be possible to get
some of those points back. I was thinking that I could redo all the
questions I got wrong on the exam in order to receive half of the points
I lost.  Let me know what you think. I really can’t afford to take this class a third
time, and I’m concerned about my grade. Thanks for your consideration and
have a wonderful afternoon.


Hi, Michelle,

I am having a wonderful evening as a result of your e-mail. I think that one of your friends has discovered your password and is sending joke messages from your account. But if you are serious about this proposal, please give > me permission to forward it to the department head and the university president to get their opinions.


It may or may not seem like all that much to you, but I was deeply hurt by the manner in which she responded. Not only did she take my very earnest proposal as a joke, but she continued to be demeaning, acting as if I might think that I’m so special to get special permission from the department head and university president (both of whom are not needed to make decisions of this nature).  It upset me a great deal – to the point of tears. I don’t think that anything I said warranted such a rude response, as a single statement of her teaching policy would suffice, and the manner in which she acted is inappropriate for her position as a teacher.

What should I do about her response? Should I handle it between us or should I bring in a third party? Should I just let it go? Have you ever been in a situation like this?


3 Responses to “How Do I Deal With Condescending Professors?”

  1. Bryonie Carolan April 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Wow, that’s a really awful response! You could reply in the nicest way and explain what you meant, with no hint of sarcasm or anger and make her feel bad for the way she wrote to you. Or just leave it, because it sounds like she’s not going to help you!

  2. Frank Garcia April 14, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I cannot believe that!
    NEVER in my life have I even had a professor ever say anything remotely close to that. How rude! Bitch slap that bitch to kingdom come.
    In all seriousness, a lot of times I here that professors can be pompous and blow themselves too much. If I were you, I’d walk into her office and give her a mouthful. I mean what is she going to do? Drop you for talking crap?
    Give that trick a piece of your mind. Dont take that ish lying down. Rude!

  3. deanjbaker April 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    enjoying your blog, but cannot post my suggestions because then I’d be in trouble

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