While I cannot always prove it, I know that students come to me with complaints that are based on “less than the truth.” Here is a recent example of what not to do. It illustrates several other issues including how not to develop a good relationship with one’s instructor. This real situation also illustrates how to display disrespect to others, something success students never do.

Getting Off on the Wrong Foot

A student walked into my reception area and looked around. I noticed that his science instructor was following him. He looked at the name plate next to my doorway and walked in without asking permission. The first impression he made was not good, but the second thing he did trumped that.

As he was marching into my office he threw his right hand over his left shoulder with his thumb pointing backward toward my instructor who was following him. The student, who never introduced himself, said, “I am taking a course from this guy.” I immediately responded, “Wait a second. This is your instructor and you refer to him as this guy?” My faculty member made light of it. I did not.

The Act of Lying

The student then explained in length how he had committed to a summer activity that required him to miss one full week of class. This was a lecture/lab science class that met four days a week. He requested, with a sense of entitlement, that he should not be penalized for missing what amounted to more than 12 percent of the class. He argued that he did not know that he would be penalized.

Lie #1 – This was a lie of omission. He did not tell me the truth about what he had planned.

He had taken the prerequisite lecture/lab course. He knew that labs could not be made up.

Lie #2 – He requested, basically demanded, that he be allowed to transfer to the evening section of this course. That is explicitly prohibited at my college for many good reasons. He admitted to committing to the summer camp two months ago. The evening section of his class began earlier that week and was not full. Even if he had made an oversight, he could have dropped the daytime section and enrolled in the evening section any time until Tuesday of this week. It became clear that he was trying to get out of one week of summer school. He would not admit it, but he thought he could reduce his summer course commitment from eight weeks to seven.

Lessons to be Learned

Lesson #1 – Show respect. Immediately memorize the name of your instructors and refer to them appropriately. In this case the instructor held a Ph.D. and should have been referred to as Doctor [last name]. I never turn a student away from my door, but this student was do disrespectful by marching right in to my office.

Lesson #2 – Do not expect special accommodations. There are a few exceptions such as medical conditions and military duty that deserve special consideration, but few other situations. Lack of knowledge is not justification for special accommodations.

Lesson #3 – Never lie to a faculty member or an administrator. They know more than some students might think. They are not naive.

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