High Enrollment, High Maintenance Students

For the first few weeks of the term, we suffer crowded classrooms, since most of us did, despite ourselves, take in a few extra students on the first day knowing that once the financial aid checks were mailed, we’d lose a few.  And then again, once the first essays are graded (next week) we’ll lose a few more.

Next week is week 4 of the term, and they are starting to flit away. Those who were just enrolled for the checks have vanished already, and those who are starting to realize that there is actual work involved outside of classtime are starting to complain, loudly,  already.  Others are anxious, but plugging away.  I hold 5 scheduled office hours a week (per unspoken campus rule) and I’ve been swamped during most of them.  Prep and grading time is now clearly the province of nights and weekends.  So many more students, so many more high maintenance students.

  • The older, returning student, who is appalled that her quest for an accounting degree requires communications and writing classes. She makes a point of grabbing me after each class to complain (in a very “church lady” sort of way, which makes me stifle giggles) about something: the workload, the vulgarity of the Anne Lamott essay we read (“Shitty Rough Drafts”), or the total waste of time peer evaluation is.  I’m stuck with her till the end of the term: goddess give me patience.
  • The veteran who visits me during office hours every day, but only for 5 minutes or so, to ask me a question about an assignment (he seems to have some internal censor that makes him get up and leave even if we are in the middle of a conversation).  He’s a nice guy, though, so I’ve just come to expect my daily chat with him.
  • The student taking a colleague’s Anthropology of Religion class who wears a giant cross around his neck, carries holy water (which he was caught sprinkling, not so surrepticiously, around the classroom), and who can’t help not contesting nearly every comment my poor colleague utters. 
  • The various children of fellow faculty members who are taking classes this term: how incredibly DIFFERENT they are away from their parental units!  I’ve had longer conversations during classtime with these teens than I have for the last 15 years as I watched them grow up. They now want to chat–often and regularly.  The conversations are exciting and passionate, but, alas, time consuming.

The most frustrating kinds of students? The ones who think they are low maintenance but are really high maintenance.  Like Sally:

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10 responses to “High Enrollment, High Maintenance Students

  1. Noooooo, it’s true: sprinkled holy water (seems there is a Catholic supply store right downtown, hidden in an alley–who knew?). Alas, another conservative Catholic in the class was quite upset, while others searched for vampires;-)

  2. Love the vid illustration. One of my fave movies, with quotes for all occasions. Nice, Annie Em.

    Good luck dealing w/the various high-maintenanceteers.

  3. We’ve got a similar influx of new, interesting students this semester, driven into higher ed by the recession.

    I add to your character sketches: The older female student who started to cry out of sheer terror when I asked her to read a few lines of poetry in class.

    The young man who is failing my class because he’s working full time, but who cannot drop because he needs his financial aid to survive.

    The returning veteran who makes inappropriate, sexual jokes in class, and whom I find it hard to correct because, you know, he’s a returning vet.

  4. Hi BS Girl,

    Oh my: tears always unnerve me, especially in class. What did you do?

    The working full time student: yep, seen hir before.

    The returning vet with sexual humor: had him last year, but he stopped attending before I could address the problem. Do you have a veteran’s office on campus you could consult with?

    Good luck. My colleague is meeting with several student services folks today about the holy-water-sprinkling student: I believe he’s going to get an ultimatum tomorrow, with a security guard in the hallway during class time just in case. Sigh.

  5. My mouth fell open at the holy water dude. Um, you do know there’s Halloween AND a Friday the 13th coming up in November, so you get 2 whole chances to test the effectiveness of holy versus unholy water in fighting the forces of eeeeeeevil. I feel the planets aligning for the main event…. I’ll make some popcorn.

  6. Thanks, JC, I will definitely WARN the poor anthro instructor of the upcoming major holidays for anti-Christs. I’ll bring the beer!

    (Update: the holy water student is now causing quite the problem in several classes it seems—he is just trying to offer THE Christian perspective in class, he says).

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