College Success 101: Why Students Should Not See How The Sausage Gets Made
In this article, Dr. David Wyld, who has been a business professor for over two decades, shares tips and tricks that college students should know in order to maximize your grade in any course. This article is actually part of a series, written to provide students with an overview of what it takes to succeed in college classes, whether the setting is a “real” classroom or a virtual one. In this article, Professor Wyld lets students take a peek behind the curtain and see how things really work in terms of your professors and their performance.
It is an outdated adage, dating back to a simpler time We may like our sausage, but do you really want to see how the pig is transformed into your breakfast meat? This metaphor has been applied to everything from how legislation gets crafted to how things work in organizations. And the adage works just as well in the college environment to how things really get done.
After two decades as a professor, I am always amazed at student attitudes towards their instructors – and vice versa. I have found that students come into college with unreasonably high expectations from their professors. And these expectations for a “perfect process” are not unique to the world of higher education. For instance, prosecutors across the country report that jurors today have heightened expectations for flawless cases, akin to what they see weekly on the various incarnations of the “C.S.I.” television shows. They expect every case to have DNA evidence that clearly identifies the perpetrator of every single crime, regardless of the actual circumstances, which often do not allow for such “clean” cases and in jurisdictions that have far less tech resources than the mythical crime-solvers on TV. The same can be said for operators of low-end to mid-market hotel chains, whose guests more-and-more demand the same 5-star-level service they would experience at a Waldorf-Astoria, Ritz-Carlton, or Hilton hotel. Likewise, rural and urban hospitals alike struggle to provide care – and patient amenities – one would find at top-flight institutions such as Johns Hopkins or the Cleveland Clinic. A “perfect process”? A “top-flight experience”? Reality – and realities – are often much messier and complicated than the ideal.
The In-Class Experience
One thing I can safely say after twenty years of conducting college classes is that each and every class rarely, if ever, goes as planned. To say things do not go as planned is inaccurate, as there is not a formal plan for the class. In fact, it may come as a surprise to students that college classes, unlike every class they have had from kindergarten through high school, do not have a structured “lesson plan.” This is one of the many things that differentiate the college environment from a student’s earlier educational experiences, and yet, it can be admittedly be a bit disconcerting for students. Yes, from the instructor’s perspective, there is always a “plan” of what is to be done in a particular class session. Yet, we are not bound by a formal plan with objectives and benchmarks, and the plan can change. Sometimes this is for the better, and yes, sometimes it if for worse.