Dear Professor: My Parents are Lost at Sea and I Need an Extension

Today’s Fri Fun Facts is about keeping it real. I give lots of advice on the Fri Fun facts and today it’s about not crafting elaborate stories in order to get an extension on work. During the last two school years I am definitely seeing that the grandparents are safe and not dying at the high rates that they used to and this might be related to how clear my syllabus is about providing proof. And, the proof about a death in the family usually is from the service—the funeral home or church typically puts together a program for the service. This might seem like an onerous request, but I find that it has kept many grandparents safe! In all seriousness, I am giving some quick advice about due dates and managing your time. In case you’re wondering, I did get a student email about parents lost t at sea. I contacted tthe Coast Guard. The student was embellishing and did not get an extension.

1. Manage your time well. In my courses the paper assignments are included in the syllabus, so from day one the students know what the assignments are and when they are due.

2. If you’re in over your head, make an appointment or come to your instructor’s office hours. I’ll be honest, I do think that I am more likely to be more flexible when a student “owns” their education and sense of overwhelm and talks to me face to face and asks for an extension. I do not always give the extension, but I think I am more apt to weigh the request differently than a last minute email.

3. Rely on resources around campus. At UVIC the library has an assignment calculator and students can type in the due date and a schedule is calculated that helps students organize their time. Attend class, go to tutorial, office hours, and schedule the time to conduct research and writing time.

4. Re-read points 1-3. I cannot emphasize how much guidance you will get from your professor if you ask for it. There is a reason why I had 8 hours of office hours this last week and that there was a line up–I care and I’m here to help. The only way that you’ll get guidance from your professor is if you talk to her/him.

With this—I ask that you finish your term on a high note and organize your time before the final exams begin. Good luck!

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with any of my current courses or students. It is merely the time of year when a post of this nature is appropriate.

Rehashing Reverb: 2012

I’m shamelessly borrowing the theme for this post from the University of Venus and the #Reverb11 theme for December 29th that was about Habits and 12 things your life doesn’t need in 2012. I’ll amend it and speak to less than that for the post. At first it seems very easy to think of 10-12 things that you don’t need in your life—bills, debt, and perhaps grumpy people. But, when you sit back and think more thoughtfully, you take stock of what you want and don’t want in your life.

1. I don’t want so many excuses. It gets really frustrating to hear excuses. Own your education, your job, and your life. You do have some control. Particular to students, once you graduate most of you will look back at your 5.1 years as an undergraduate and think about how lucky you were. Yes, you will, and some of you email me or send Facebook messages August- November wishing that you were back in school. You wish that you could go back and try harder or spend more time on that one assignment. To this I say, own it. Own your responsibility. For people who aren’t students this also applies. Before you say, I can’t—think about why you can’t. What is your motivation or lack thereof. What is holding you back?

2. I don’t want to complain about the weather—so I won’t. I spent 2010 and 2011 taking special care to not complain about the weather as much as I used to and I’ve even attempted to embrace it. This is hard, as I fully admit to being a weather princess. I grew up used to Spring and Summer and now in the Pacific Northwest I get four seasons. OK, I don’t get the Winters that Alberta, Manitoba and most other provinces get, but I still get colder weather than I’ll ever become accustomed to. So, I endeavor to complain less!

3. I don’t want negative energy in my life and this includes tightening the inner circle of good friends. I’ve come to realize that I have had a few friends in my life who really thrive on the negative and are passive aggressive. I’ve tried to walk away and limit my time around these people, as I notice that I leave a coffee date thinking about some petty comment. I don’t have time for the negative energy and will protect my time more so in 2012.

4. I don’t want to feel bad about working lots, but need to balance this with more quality time with my family. I need to work smarter and as soon as I figure this out successfully I’ll sell the secret! Seriously, since I live my life term to term, my schedule fluctuates. I need to have better control of the schedule, but also admit that I do need two long days of work or else I have to work on the weekend. Whoever thinks that academics work a 40 hour work week should shadow me or my countless colleagues across campus.

I do think that four things complete my list for now. I’ll keep you posted about how I work on these points. I have control over all of them—my reaction. I’ll have to remember that!