For my very first interview I wanted to go right to the heart of academia, right to one of the people that has influenced me more than anyone in the entire world, and someone that I know could give spectacular answers to gritty questions. I chose Dr. Jackie Ricotta.  Jackie is a tenured professor with over 15 years of teaching at Delaware Valley University. Along with her 15 years of teaching college, she spent 10 years experiencing it as an undergrad at Cornell University and eventually receiving her PhD from the University of Illinois. On top of that she now has two sons that attend college. Overall Jackie has accumulated 30 years of experience with college students and professors, making her more then adequate to answer my questions about the higher education system.

I wanted to dig deep into the feelings and thoughts that professors have toward their students and institutions:

Student and Professor Relationships

1)Does your relationship (interaction) with student’s affect their
grade? Be honest.

My relationship with a student will never influence a grade to a major extent, however, if I know a student is working hard in a course; has come in for help; or if someone is particularly attentive or participatory in class, I may round up their grade slightly. For example, if a student has an 89.48 (a B+) and they have strong attendance, I may round that up to an A-  (note: anything above 89.5 I always round up unless someone has poor attendance or has been texting a lot during class)(I am considered way too nice but that’s just me)

How can a student develop a better relationship with a professor?
Ask questions in class; volunteer their personal experiences and knowledge during a discussion; have good attendance and do not text; come in during office hours to ask questions.
Bring in articles about something they heard in class; let the prof know if you used something you learned in conversation or another class

2)What are not so obvious behaviors that constitute a negatively rated student?

Not following rubrics and directions for assignments; emailing papers when a hard copy was required; not reading a test question correctly or following test directions
Being consistently late is disrespectful to the teacher and the rest of the class.
Texting a lot.
Not handing in homework consistently.
Wearing pajamas or slippers to class consistently (once in a while is ok, but dressing neatly shows respect for yourself and who you are with).

If there was one non-class related thing you wish every student did
prior to taking your classes, what would it be?

They should familiarize themselves with what is happening in their field of study – read a newspaper or TIME magazine; a blog or website ( I guess this is somewhat class related).
Get enough sleep so they can be attentive in class; stay healthy; don’t plan vacations during the semester.

Would you say the current structure of a classroom participation
benefits more extroverted and out going students?

Yes, but strong writing skills and the ability to write (and speak) clearly yet amusingly will go a long way. Professors read a LOT of papers and tests, and a paper with a unique point of view that is succinct & weel researched is usually going to get a great grade rather thana boring but correct paper.

The money that student pays in tuition is astronomically high
nowadays, much of which contributes toward the professors salary; Do
you think it is fair that professors can penalize students for
tardiness, phone use, or absence even though they get paid the same
amount regardless?

At most small colleges, faculty are poorly paid compared to their counterparts in industry. This is not true at top universities or big state schools, especially since they are bring  in research grants. SJU probably falls somewhere in between. The big salaries are the administrators – the president (usually $350,000 and up, even at small schools; over a mil at large schools); the deans and provosts.  Do you ever hear a student say how much a dean influenced their education? How a president advised them, helped them, influenced them? The high salaries are on the backs of the student loans, yet these monkeys really do not interact with students at all.  The trend is to now hire business people to run schools like for-profit companies, but that just does not work when the product is a student.  Professors that teach a lot are generally overworked and underpaid but love what they do and love to help students.  High standards, rules, are in place to help a young person gorw up into  mature responsible adult who knows socil norms and etiquette. The professor is king or queen of their classroom and they can do whatever they want.

4)Shouldn’t the success of the student be his/her own responsibility?

It is – but a student is paying us to help them whether they realize it or not. They can choose to skip class, text, skip, but it is the professor’s prerogative as to how those actions affect a grade. If someone does all those things but gets 99’s on all the exams and good project grades, they will still get an A, but with 15 years of experience I can assure you that that is usually not what happens.

How can a college student make their experience more worthwhile?  Give
one general answer and one specific action.

Learn how to focus and take good notes; don’t rely solely on the power-points
Get to know your professor and what makes them tick – you will learn something from someone who has devoted their life to one subject.
Try to enjoy your classes; really listen and absorb.