A Modest Proposal to Students

Adapted from William King, King's College, Pennsylvania


1. Enthusiasm is contagious. Profs respond and teach better to an alert, attentive and interested class in just the way a band puts together a better show for an enthusiastic crowd.

2. Be involved in class. Participate in class discussions and ask questions. If you have nothing to say, then show that you are interested and engaged by making eye contact with the professor. You would find it pretty boring if the prof never made eye contact with the class. In the same way, the prof will find you pretty boring, if you never look up. 

3. The "too cool for school" posture is unacceptable and offensive. Never slouch, chat, glare at the clock, or yawn. You would not appreciate such posture if you were speaking in front of the class, would you?

4. When a fellow student speaks, it is not an opportunity to "tune out", take a break or start a conversation. Respecting your classmates includes listening to their questions and comments.

5. Never close your books or rustle your papers to signal the end of class. This is like looking at your watch when someone is talking to you. In fact you might consider not even wearing a watch to class. Times flies when you're focused on something important.


1. Make use of office hours and don't hesitate to make an appointment if those times are not convenient for you.

2. Don't wait until it's "too late" to seek help. If you are having trouble, let the prof know, and show you are concerned.

3. Come to office hours with definite questions, concerns or problems in mind. Don't wait until you arrive to think about what you need help with.

4. Never ask, "Did I miss anything important in class the other day?"  Of course you did!

5. Unless the prof makes a point of giving the class his or her number, do not call him or her at home.


1. Hand in papers on time, and ask for extensions only under the most extraordinary circumstances-for example, your own impending death!

2. Do not ask if your paper is graded the day after you handed it in. You had a reasonable amount of time to write it; now give the prof a reasonable amount of time to grade it.

3. Contrary to popular opinion, grading and exam writing is not easy, and profs do not take sadistic pleasure in it. It is the worst part of the job, and profs strive to be as fair as possible.