The Chatty Professor Blog

A tenured professor of Communication Studies helps students correctly–not cluelessly–speak/deal with those who teach them. The outcome? Better student-prof relationships, improved grades, and confident and competent communication skills for college and beyond. The opinions expressed are my own or those of commenters. All student situations described are real (at least one term old to protect current students); identifiers have been omitted and carefully disguised to protect student privacy.

“My prof encouraged me to stay. I thought I should go. I failed. Now what?”

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in General | 5 comments

“My prof encouraged me to stay. I thought I should go. I failed. Now what?”

(Last week, I wrote about an “Incomplete” grade versus failure, based on a student question. Here is a slightly different situation, also along the lines of an incomplete. What do you think?) Dear Ellen, I thought I did everything right in communicating with my professor this term. I did not do well on my first exam and my professor took me aside and said he/she was concerned. We agreed I needed more study time. I faced a terrible injury three weeks after the exam and went to the prof again to explain what was going on. We...

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“I am failing. Is it too late to get an Incomplete? Should I retake the course?”

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, Interpersonal Communication | 5 comments

“I am failing. Is it too late to get an Incomplete? Should I retake the course?”

(Aaaaaaand… student write-in questions are back! With many terms winding down, I am receiving letters that include various levels of frustration and failure. You’ll see themes of them over the next several posts. Hopefully, the discussions will be helpful to anyone facing a similar issue.) Hello Ellen, Thank you so much for doing what you do. I wish I had known all these lessons as a student before I put myself in this situation. I think I’m failing a class. I e-mailed my instructor about possibly taking an Incomplete, but I...

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Why Saying ‘Thank You’ Now Can Lead to Career Success

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, Interpersonal Communication | 2 comments

Why Saying ‘Thank You’ Now Can Lead to Career Success

(It is the end of teacher appreciation week! Next week, I’m returning with student write-in’s, but sticking with the theme of career success this week. Do you feel like the art of ‘thank you’ is leaving us, along with face to face conversation? I hope not. I’m interested in your thoughts!) “Ellen, I would like to speak with you. This is not class-related. Can we please schedule a call when you have some time? Student” I recently received this note just after one of my classes met for the last time. The...

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How to Talk About Specific Soft Skills from Your Classes

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in General, General College Success/Responses to Other College Entities | 0 comments

How to Talk About Specific Soft Skills from Your Classes

(Following up on a piece I wrote for YouTern a couple months ago called Close the Skills Gap: View College as Soft Skills Experience. In that piece, I discussed all the ways soft skills happen in college, but many students don’t realize it. I’ve got the actual words to message those skills…) “But I have no experience!” How many times do college students say this when they realize: “Wow, I have to speak to skills beyond my degree to get a job!”? A LOT! It’s an awful feeling, too. You’ve...

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How to Get a Recommendation Letter if You Are Not an ‘A’ Student

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, General College Success/Responses to Other College Entities | 0 comments

How to Get a Recommendation Letter if You Are Not an ‘A’ Student

Dear Student Who Isn’t Acing Classes, I’m dedicating this post to you. You are nearing the end of an academic term/year. I know you’ve heard about the critical importance of networking with your profs, getting recommendation letters, etc. You may be letting this suggestion pass you by, but I am going to beg you not to. You deserve a recommendation letter, even if you didn’t do as well as you would have liked. Grades are a measurement of a body of work and performance over a limited period of time. Are they important and...

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“How Do I Deal with a Slacker on a Group Project?”

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, Interpersonal Communication | 10 comments

“How Do I Deal with a Slacker on a Group Project?”

(A one-line write-in from a student… Does this problem ever go away in life? No! The slacking group member is a plague! Students feel helpless and concerned about grades, and they may wonder when to bring a prof in on the problem. Here’s my take…)  Ellen, How do you work with a group member who does not put in their work on a group project? Student *********************** I realize the student didn’t ask for all the advice I’m giving, but I’m giving it anyway. What do you say??? Student, I so empathize!...

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You Failed An Exam. Your Friend Aced It. Same Study Guide, Two Different Tests.

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in General | 5 comments

You Failed An Exam. Your Friend Aced It. Same Study Guide, Two Different Tests.

(Back to a student write-in question that came in on “You Failed Your Class” from my old Blogger site. Since we’re nearing the end of another school year, let’s tackle this one in case others are going through it, too…) Ellen, I have an issue that is really bothering me. My friend and I spent all day Tuesday in the library studying the same exact material for an exam on Wednesday (It was a practice test for our exam online). The only difference is Friend’s class is lecture style and mine is online. Wednesday...

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Does Your Prof Care More than You Do? Will Your Boss?

Posted by on Mar 26, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, Interpersonal Communication | 37 comments

Does Your Prof Care More than You Do? Will Your Boss?

(No major intro on this one. Student questions will be back soon. In the meantime, here is what I’m thinking about right now…) In my Interpersonal Communication course, my students submit a question-prompted journal fairly early in the term. The first question? “Analyze your communication strengths and weaknesses, based on communication competencies in the textbook.” If other questions go awry, (they usually don’t–interpersonal communication may be hard as hell in real life, but it isn’t rocket...

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“I’m Failing by One Point–and I May be the Target of Discrimination”

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Communicating with Professors, General, Interpersonal Communication | 14 comments

“I’m Failing by One Point–and I May be the Target of Discrimination”

(Some personal blips kept me away from my blogging longer than expected. Writing is my whole heart and when I miss it, I really miss it. Spring break is upon me soon and my hope is to get back on track for at least my weekly posts! A couple quick updates: While I was away, my third piece in USA Today College published: 6 Things You Should Say to Your Professor. Very proud of this one because obviously, the topic is my whole heart. Read it and grab two pocket phrases to sound ultra-professional in most pesky classroom situations! On to a...

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An F on Your Transcript and Your Dream Job: What Do You Say About That?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in General, General College Success/Responses to Other College Entities | 11 comments

An F on Your Transcript and Your Dream Job: What Do You Say About That?

(I was not intending to take a two-week hiatus, but apparently, a hiatus decided to take me! Darned winter illnesses that strike family members back to back–but fortunately, not Mom. I’ve missed interacting with everyone and wanted to continue on our theme from a couple of weeks ago: When college is supposed to help dreams come true, but then something in college actually threatens that dream. Here we have yet another letter to that end. What do you think about this situation?) Dear Ellen, I read your blog about failing a class. I...

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