How to Deal with Difficult Professors

Have you had to deal with difficult professors in your Nursing courses?

Difficult professors are a millstone in pre-reqs; we either love them or we hate them. Here are the characteristics of the difficult, good, and bad professors, the Do's and Don'ts, and tips I've learned along the way.


Have you had to deal with difficult professors in your Nursing courses?

In almost every college experience, you will come across a difficult professor.  This can make or break you as a student, especially when taking prereqs. When it came to my prereqs experiences, I had 2 difficult professors. I'll share my experiences with difficult professors I've had and tips I've learned along the way.

Characteristics of a difficult "bad" professor

#1 Attitude

Usually, the first big red flag of a difficult professor is attitude. This can range from eye rolls when asking a question to and intentionally not responding to emails. From experience, I had an English teacher (who was very philosophical) who had talked down the class and actually called us out when our paper wasn't good in class, which was very embarrassing. No one in our class enjoyed this experience and half of us all despised the teacher.

#2 Make things difficult on purpose (for their own amusement)

In anatomy, I had a teacher who told us to study out of the manual during my first attempt at anatomy. On the day of the quiz, not a bone or a key term was on that quiz! I was so discouraged because I studied so freaking hard! In my local CC, there was talk of a former anatomy teacher who made things so difficult that most of the class failed. Sadly, you have some people whom get a kick out of students failing.

#3 Favoritism

Also, in the first attempt of anatomy, my professor played favorites. It was like he decided whom he liked or not. In other words, if you weren't a mean girl he found attractive, a teacher's pet, or a fan of his favorites, you were literally just disregarded.

#4 No response

One thing that makes a class more difficult is the fact and it is very nerve-wracking in some cases. The professor usually ignores emails. There have been times when I had to inform the teacher of personal events, and they ignored emails (one teacher literally said he read it, but he paid it no mind). If help is needed, especially on an assignment, there is usually no response.

Characteristics of a difficult "good" professor

#1 They challenge you to think outside the box

A good teacher has a syllabus, but they usually use reality to teach. You are constantly asked to apply yourself during class. You basically "connect" what you learned to real-world situations.

#2 They use real-life experience

The most difficult teacher I had on a positive note had reminded me that they were my age once, in the same class, and had obstacles. When dealing with really difficult material, they would share what their professor did and taught them about it, making it a little bit easier. I appreciated the fact that they didn't have this arrogant attitude towards students.

#3 Usually lightning-fast emails

With my very difficult classes (even in COVID), my teachers answered back super quick when help was needed. In most cases, I got a response back within 30 minutes, and the longest I've ever waited with a good professor to respond was about 24 hours.

#4 They are straightforward

A teacher will tell you upfront about what is expected and what is unexpected. They keep very good watch over student's progress, and if you approach them, they will literally tell you what you need to improve on. They are very blunt, but they care.

#5 They help when it is needed

Usually, when taking classes, our professor encouraged us to ask questions at any moment. They didn't care if it held lecture or lab back a few minutes. They made sure everything was covered, and if more help was needed, you would be free to email them, arrange office hours, or even a Zoom meeting.

If you have a difficult professor, here are the Do's and Don'ts

DON'T call them out on being difficult because this is a recipe for disaster. A former professor told me a story about calling a professor out that brought his B grade down to a D.

DO the best that you can in that class!

Do realize that although that you may not like them, or maybe you do, you do take a lesson or two from them down the road (if I told myself that two years ago, I would've laughed my butt off).

DON'T take any disrespectful nature from them. If a professor is being blunt but to the point where it humiliates you or others, don't talk with academic affairs.

DO get to know them, but DON'T reform yourself so they'll like you (If you don't like something that they don't like, don't act as if you like it).

If all else fails, DO drop the course.

Tips about dealing with difficult professors

#1 Have a good work ethic

Show up ready to learn and put in hard work! Things may get difficult but keep trying til the very end.

#2 Talk to classmates

When it came to difficult professors, I remember asking students if they have the same experience. Usually, they said yes. Generally, talking to current and former students helps gain understanding about a difficult professor.  Current students usually shared their tips, and the former professors told the current students who knew that they would take who was the better professor.

#3 Extra resources

When you are struggling with the material, finding additional materials helps out a lot. Many extra resources are provided through Youtube.

#4 Talk to your advisor

When thinking of dropping, your advisor can give you advice and certain dates (such as drop dates, so it won't affect your transcripts).

#5 Check rate my professor or take a transient course

I would check Ratemyprofessor to see whom was a good professor! This helped a lot, especially after my first attempt of anatomy! Along with this it can also to help to take the course at another school as well.

Hello there! I am a nursing student hoping to get into my technical school's Fall of 2021 program. If you are a pre-nursing student needing help, I will help in any way possible.

22 Articles   261 Posts

Share this post