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Advice On Approaching And Handling My Professor (previously in Education & Career)

I realized from the lack of response vs. view ratio that this is probably more appropriately here. So sorry if this is considered spam by the mods. Please feel free to PM me if it is considered so, for it is not intended. I really really just hope to come to some sort of conclusion on how to proceed before Monday.

Okay, so before I start I should say that I feel like I know that I need to stop being such a baby and man up and just face it. But my anxiety over this Professor/his college comp. class seems to grow each day and it's getting to the point where I haven't gone to class twice this week. So I am here for advice, but if your advice is to "suck it up" please elaborate more on coping mechanisms/habits I can practice that are more constructive, because I have been telling myself to "suck it up" and I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with this situation. Also, thank you in advance if you take the time to read and/or respond.

A little preface:
I graduated in 2013 and took a year off before moving roughly 1,000 miles away from home to go to a college that I've always thought was the only college I could picture myself at. I am currently nearing the end of my second semester of my freshman year at a college that is comprised of a "triad" of class hours/credits, work hours (on campus, 15 hrs/week), and community service hours.

My financial aid requires me to have a 3.0 or higher to keep from losing my scholarships, and if I become behind in work or class I can be put on academic suspension or work probation, which in the long run can prevent me from certain opportunities such as studying abroad. At this moment, I'm not necessarily in danger of either of those. After the first semester I ended with two B+'s and two B's, which ended me with a 3.15 GPA. Midterms I had: A(calc 2), B+(math rigor), and C(college comp). So I took 16 credits the first semester, and I was incredibly exhausted but happy with my classwork and work performance and community service. I was unsure of the workload of my two math classes this semester, and was worried about taking college comp., so I only took 12 credits (which is the minimum for me to be considered full time and live on campus).

I work in the financial aid office on campus and things are going well, I've had a lot more responsibly put on me since midterms since we have a very small work crew and the main student who has been on it the longest is graduating this May, and they are sort of training me to be the "New Thom" (another student's words haha).

I haven't had much trouble with grades or understanding material since I have began here, and I am thoroughly enjoying both math courses I am taking right now. It's been difficult practicing time management, but so far I am pulled myself through mostly intact. During my year off it became very apparent to me that I did not want to work a minimum wage job the rest of my life and that I really really enjoy learning and wished to pursue a higher education. I have always loved learning, and through out my life I overall have had very close and wonderful relationships with my teachers, with roughly one that I didn't get along with at first but ended up developing a close relationship with them a couple years after being their student. Basically, in high school, I was closer with my teachers then my peers.

I apologize for the long introduction but this is why I am making this thread:
I am taking a college composition course on literature, where I mostly write critical analysis essays on novels, poems, and such things and learn about the structuring of MLA stuff. When I had chosen my classes prior to this semester I sat down with my peer advisor and my academic advisor to discuss which courses I was thinking of taking. I wanted to get a gen. ed out of the way so I decided on this college comp class, since I love reading and thought I would really enjoy it. The way that my peer advisor described the Professor was that you really had to be a self learner to excel in his class. I didn't think much of this, I read about lot's of different subjects to learn new things. I sort of got the impression that he was a slight hippy old man who went on tangents but was going to be incredibly insightful and inspiring. I still am not sure exactly what my advisor said that gave me that impression, but I was so so so wrong. He is a very mean, very strict Professor. The first day of class he referred to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression and looked directly at me because he knows I'm from the north. Anyone else who would do this, I would think it was a joke, but with him it's a bit more.. personal. The first term of this course was incredibly stressful for me, I have a very hard time writing essays. And I know that this comes from some thing within me that needs to just let go a bit on the control factor, but there were times I sat down and it took me 7 hours to write a two page critical analysis. I have been trying to practice just sitting down and forcing myself to write without being overly critical or overthinking things, but I still am having a very hard time doing this, and allowing myself the time and the motivation.

The classroom environment is one I have not really been in before. The Professor is very strict, I feel like he is watching me the entire time. I understand that his rules are simply that and I need to be an adult about it and follow them without complaining. But I drink a lot of water and coffee and after working all day and having a class directly before his, with minimal time in between these things, I really have to pee. But no going pee during class is a rule. So I do my very very best to follow it. Another is that you have to shower and smell nice or he will kick you out. Basically he wants everyone to sit completely still and silent and anything other then that results in him yelling and telling you how absolutely rude your behavior is. I have always consider myself to be polite (my entire life people have told me that I'm too polite), but I have never felt like my natural human tendencies were so rude before. I never take my phone out during class, and I've never been the student that does that. I try to be fully engaged and get the most out of the time I am there. Basically, this adds quite a bit to my anxiety in the classroom as well, because I am so nervous about him calling me out in front of the class telling me how rude and awful I am. The other part of this is that I guess his teaching method is a lecture-esqu one. Which I can generally get down with, but he tends to talk a lot with out saying much, which makes it incredibly difficult for me to keep in the moment and alert but I force myself to, and take almost unnecessary notes in order to stay engaged.

Over winter break some unfortunate things took place back home and it shook me a bit. Not to get too much into personal details, but an old coworker/friend of mine was run over and killed a few days before I returned to school, and my grandmother, who I have been very close to my entire life, has MS, and other things, was on the edge of death the entire month I was home. I am not trying to justify myself with sharing these things, I am trying to portray the state my emotional state has been in I guess.

Upon returning I was late with an essay (every 24 hours late, is 5 points off) and missed one class due to a sort of break down I had one morning after work when I just could not stop crying. My Professor has an absent sheet he requires his students to fill out if they miss a day, which entails writing what your work and other class schedule of that day was, how many days you have missed in total, and the reason why you were absent. I naively filled this form out honestly. When I presented it to him, I told him I was fully aware of the reduction of points I would receive and that I was sincerely sorry that I had missed his class, but basically that I understood the consequences of my behavior. His response was incredibly judgmental and I was insulted, but tried to not let my feelings muddle up trying to rectify the situation. He told me that he didn't know what sort of behavior was acceptable in my high school, but class attendance was absolutely mandatory and that what I did was not acceptable. I tried to sort of lighten the situation a little with lighthearted "well I really only every skipped one class in high school and that was latin class on senior skip day. I went to the bunkers and read because it was a beautiful sunny day and when I was called down to the guidance office I was completely honest with her and she actually apologized for having to give me a detention. But I had understood that was going to be the consequence at the time, and that was the only time I ever skipped". He held me aside from class for roughly 3 weeks for about 30 minutes to an hour to lecture me on why this behavior was not acceptable, telling me I should open my mind up to other majors such as english or science (he asked me what I was going to major in and I had replied that I've been seriously torn between math, art, and psychology, so I am trying to get my gen. ed's out of the way and dabble around to see what I like), and that I needed to "open my mind." So this continued until spring break.

Spring break happens and I drive home up north (roughly 15 hour drive). The first day I'm back my sister who lives in California stops responding to anyone's calls and the last thing anyone had heard was the she was going to kill herself. Things ended up being okay, but this is really only a general compact version of the situation. Soo yeah. It was a weird break again. But I drove back to school at the end of the week, and felt very strange but tried to just dive into my schoolwork and work to stop thinking about these things. First day back and I feel very bad and go to the health center. Turns out my tonsils are the size of golfballs, and I have a throat infection as well as a fever. They told me I was not allowed to go back to work or class until Wednesday. So I missed another class of this professors's, which led to weeks and weeks more of him holding me aside after class to lecture me on how unacceptable my behavior is and that I need to be "more comfortable in the academia environment." At this point, attending this class is what I dread all day and all week. There's a part of me that knows that if this teacher didn't care about me as a student that he wouldn't be putting this time into me. But there's the other part of me that just wants this to freaking end and never have to see this man again.

Last week was a rather strange one for me. The guy I was seeing cheated on me, and I broke up with him. I was late with an essay, and I admit it was completely my fault. I now feel the worst student ever, but like my moms always says "this too shall pass." Basically this is the point where I feel I began to mess up the most and worst. I didn't pass it in before the next class. He took me aside, again, and told me that "maybe college isn't for you." This was during a time that he left the class to let us work independently on a paraphrasing paper we are working on. The moment he left the room my entire class immediately started discussing how much they dislike him and his teaching methods. I actually wanted to use this time to get work done so I did my best to focus, while they vented. Which was whatever. But then he pulled me out to lecture me about why I shouldn't be in college, which took the rest of the class time, and deeply hurt me. And I know that this isn't a thing where things should be personal or I should take it personally, but I did and I still do. Honestly, I am at a point where I am so sick of his emotional manipulation and constant judgement and I feel like he is constantly critiquing me as a human and it just hurts. I have not done the essay still, and I don't know if I will. At this point the highest grade on the paper I could get is like a 45. I did not go to class on Wednesday and I did not today. I feel so awful about this, and I am aware that it is completely my doing. I am not looking for sympathy or whatever. I guess I am hoping that maybe someone has some light to shed or some advice, or something. If I were taking 16 credits, I would have dropped this course by now, but I can't do that. There's this part of me, a very cowardice part of me, that never wants to go to that class again or see him again. I don't exactly know what would the consequences of failing the course other then my GPA and having to retake it (with another professor), but there's a part of me that feels like if those are the consequences, I am almost willing to accept them in order to just not feel this way any more. I have never felt this way about a teacher, or learning, and that upsets me because I don't like the idea of paying and working hard to afford a higher education for.. this. The other side of me is saying that from now on, just go to every single class, and do the best I can possibly do. And I think this is what I should do, it's just the thought of listening to him go on and on and on about his judgements of me as a person and holding me back after class every damn class, makes me want to rip my hair out from anxiety and frustration.

My apologies this was so long and a little too detailed and slightly vent-y. Congrats and thank you if you read the entire thing.
 

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@rambleonrose: I'm sorry to hear about what you went through, it must have been a tough time for you dealing with so many things at the same time *hugs*


Anyway, this is my advice on this issue. You can always try writing a letter or email to your professor first, addressing to him about all those things that you just wrote here. If that method still doesn't work, then I think you might need a hiatus from school at the moment, like maybe you can ask your school for deferment of studies or something (and avoid making any impulsive decisions such as quitting school because if you were to quit now all your previous efforts will be wasted. I don't think you should give up on school just because of your professor, the only time I find it appropriate for one to quit school is if they dislike their major or if they dislike the education system in their school). And I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend, you seem like a wonderful person and you deserve to have a great guy who is faithful to you, he has just lost a wonderful girl, it's his loss. And I was reading through your entire post and you seemed to be feeling depressed at the moment, I think you should distract yourself from all those emotions, perhaps you can go on a vacation, something to take your mind away from all those stress and depression. And perhaps you can also find a creative outlet such as writing or music or art or dancing to channel your emotions into. And also doing some volunteering work would also distract you from your own emotions, when you are busy helping others you won't have any time to think about your own issues.

Hope my advice managed to be of some help. :kitteh:
 

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I skimmed this... but what I just read is kind of shocking. This guy's behavior is COMPLETELY unprofessional. You're not being childish for saying so, and I recommend you do say so immediately, to the appropriate authority. I realize high school instills an authoritarian mindset in people's brains, but when you grow up, you have to learn when someone is taking advantage of you, and when someone's authority is to be laughed at.

No going to the restroom during class? Any professor who says something like that should be laughed out of his profession. At the school I went to, many of the professors didn't care if you even attended class, it was your grade on the line. As it should be. Even the ones that did care (and by care, I mean had pop quizzes for points)? If you just got up and left to go to the restroom, fine. Whatever. As it should be.

Also, 'War of Northern Aggression?' I thought this was a composition course, why is he making it political in such a borderline way? Then again, I'm not from the South, but even still, I wouldn't expect this of the curriculum for what sounds like a first year writing course.

Lastly, him making things personal is way over the line. He's paid to teach you composition, not give you his opinions on your personal affairs. If you were sick, etc, and he fed you some line of bullshit about how you shouldn't be in college anymore? The fact that he said you shouldn't be in college anymore... that's crazy. Mostly because he gets paid by YOU. You should report this guy to the administration in some way. I highly recommend an appeal to higher authority because it seems unlikely that he'd ever help you. You could write a letter of extenuating circumstance to the appropriate party... saying you went through a lot of grief with your grandmother, etc this semester, and your comp class grade should be considered incomplete, to be retaken next semester with a new professor. It wouldn't hurt to mention how insane your professor is and how he made you feel in the letter, in great detail like you've shared here.

I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist, but it sounds like there's something more at play here. Why else would a professor suggest you leave college? You got good grades in math, you clearly belong there, even if you had some trouble this semester with your writing (from outside factors from what I skimmed). Quite frankly, I imagine truly bad students are great for professors to a certain extent. Repeating a course or two means a little extra revenue. So for him to suggest you leave the college, over one comp course, sounds to me that he doesn't like you for some other exogenous reasons. Either that, or he's the biggest prude in the world, and the administration should shame him for making things with a student personal.

Wish you the best of luck with this situation. Seriously though, get some help from someone higher up.
 

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I have been in college six years now and I have experienced many teaching styles, I have gotten to know many academics and administrators very well and I have even experienced reporting an instructor due to unethical classroom behavior. My take on this is that you need to visit your advisor immediately to discuss your issue in honesty and your options in reporting your instructor's problematic behavior. It is unacceptable. No wonder you don't want to attend class and speak to your instructor!
 
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