To join the nursing program at her college, my younger sister must face a bunch of rigorous science and math classes, all while maintaining a 3.6 grade point average. After a particularly butt-kicking anatomy exam, she texted me one evening complaining about how difficult it was to manage all her classes at once.
Forgetting that she goes to an enormous university, I absent-mindedly told her to consult her professor—obviously he or she would have some advice for her. My sister, sending me the emoji equivalent of a sad face, told me that her professor had a waiting list and wouldn’t be able to talk with her until November. That is, less than a month and a half before the semester is over. A big help that is.
I’m a huge believer that a person’s individual work and commitment to their classes should determine the grades they get, but I also can’t discount the importance of professor-student interactions. Whether you’re visiting a professor for help on an assignment, or like me and scavenging their book collections for research, professors are a phenomenal resource for students, not just the bearers of exams and homework.
And not to get too personal, but when you are feeling the brunt of every single assignment, paper, and test weighing down on you, professors might just be the best people to seek out. A few weeks ago, I was really feeling the combined pressure of all my classes and decided to speak to one of my professors about how much stress I was under. I didn’t expect a tearful heart-to-heart or anything, but I did spend a solid half an hour talking about plain ‘ol life. Which felt amazing, by the way—to take a few seconds and just breathe.
As a sibling, I feel pretty bad about not being able to give my sister any more advice about her situation. No one deserves to swim in the academic seas alone. But as a student, I feel overwhelmingly grateful that I go to a small enough school like CNU where there aren’t endless waiting lists to speak with professors and faculty during their office hours. Even better, I’m so glad I go to a university where office hours at Panera are an actual thing.