During your college years, you are going to take classes from several types of professors, and all of them have something to offer. If your goal is to get that elusive “A,” in your college career, you will want to make sure you understand each professor’s style and are working with it effectively.
It stands to reason that some of your professors will be older and have been teaching for a number of years. This type of teacher may be old fashioned in his or her methods, but that is because they are effective. If you want to impress a mature instructor and do well in his or her class, go back to basics. Show up regularly and on time. Use the office hours to ask questions, especially about what the professor thinks. Lean on his or her expertise. (Academics have egos, too.) There is room for disagreeing with this type of professor, but you need to create a baseline of respect first.
Young professors are in a completely different category. While you may think that someone closer to your age will be more lenient about grades and coursework, the opposite may be the case. If you are the new person in a job which took years of work to get, would you be making sure all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed? It’s the same thing with a young professor who is trying to prove him or herself. If anything, you may have to work harder to impress a new professor than someone who has been around for several years and isn’t under as much pressure to show the administration what he or she can do.
If you are looking for an A from a young professor, you need to be diligent about checking over your work with a fine-tooth comb. Do the reading as assigned. Check-in with the professor during office hours to make sure you are on the right track with your papers. You probably should not count on getting a lot of leeway in assignments, so stick to a narrow focus unless you know this professor’s style is more open to interpretation.
Getting an A from a boring professor is something that is going to present a challenge. Keep in mind that your instructor didn’t find the material boring at one point, but may have lost enthusiasm for it over the years. Since you need to take the course anyway, you will have to find something about it that is interesting. This may take some effort on your part, but get creative and find some aspect of the material that you can get positive about and go after that A.
If your professor has a highly intellectual teaching style and you want to get top marks, you need to take your coursework equally seriously. Make sure that you review everything in detail before handing it in to make sure that you haven’t missed any steps. All citations and references must be spot on, or your professor will notice and you may miss out on the top mark you are looking for.
If you are thinking of engaging the intelligent professor in a battle of wits, you had better be sure you are well-armed. He or she will no doubt enjoy a lively debate and will have a level of knowledge that you do not share (yet). Rather than trying to compete with your professor, a better choice is to place yourself figuratively at the feet of the Master to learn all you can and get an A in the process.