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230 votes
Accepted

Is it appropriate to email a professor with a simpler solution than the one she provided?

Email the professor, explain that you came up with an alternate proof, and ask if it is correct. If you approach it this way, it should be perfectly acceptable to anyone. You get to find out if your ...
Jeff's user avatar
  • 16.3k
214 votes
Accepted

Is it ethical to tell my teaching assistant that I like him?

Wait until after the course is over and grades are in: don't put your TA in a difficult situation. After that, you are just two adult humans, assuming you won't have any other courses with this TA.
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 120k
190 votes

Professor creates assignment making students advocate for a bill being presented to Congress. Is this legal?

Can a professor do this? Is this legal? Or a violation of students' First amendment? You are 100% correct to be concerned. No, the professor most certainly cannot do such a thing; his behavior is ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
176 votes
Accepted

How to react to a student proselytising during office hours?

You address this by stating directly "I would prefer not to discuss this topic during office hours. Can I help you with any questions you have on the homework?" If the issue persists, I would ...
Vladhagen's user avatar
  • 18.9k
153 votes
Accepted

I am non-tenured and have been offered a tenure-track position at my current university, but I don't want to stay here long term. What should I do?

There's nothing to prevent you from accepting the TT position (which presumably carries better pay and more prestige) while still pursuing positions elsewhere. Indeed, having a tenure-track position ...
David Ketcheson's user avatar
151 votes

Can I say no when my principal investigator asks me to help cover lectures next semester?

I don't think a flat "no" would go over very well. Covering classes is something that colleagues are expected to do for one another, within reason. Yes, everyone has their own projects that this ...
Nate Eldredge's user avatar
139 votes

How to handle requests for a race-based exam structure?

I would suggest offering something in response that makes the students feel like their concerns are heard, without compromising the academics of the course. For example: I understand that this is a ...
ff524's user avatar
  • 109k
130 votes

Is it possible to teach two different courses that meet almost at the same time?

No. Just, no. With a scheduled course, students are entitled to your undivided attention during the class meeting time. This may even be an accreditation requirement. There is no way you can teach ...
Nate Eldredge's user avatar
126 votes

Are non-citizen Muslim professors and students going to be removed from US universities and subsequently deported by Trump's ban?

The current ban applies only to people who are outside the US. Nobody knows what Trump might do in the future, though. Edit: The situation keeps changing, and I will not be updating this answer. ...
Anonymous Physicist's user avatar
125 votes

I'm a professor being mistaken for a grad student, how to handle this?

I would take it as a compliment to be mistaken for being younger. And, even if you don't actually feel complimented, that's a good way to respond. For example, you could laugh and say "Thanks. I ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 18.4k
123 votes

When should a professor recommend a student drop out of college?

The career goals of an undergraduate change on a regular basis. How many of us are doing exactly what we thought we would do at that point in time? If the student is doing well, grade-wise, and is on ...
Jon Custer's user avatar
  • 13.4k
121 votes
Accepted

How to deal with an inappropriate greeting in an email?

Personally, I would address it in a friendly way, but one that makes it clear that you think it's a bit of an odd form of greeting. It doesn't sound like it was intended in an unfriendly or ...
Stuart Golodetz's user avatar
118 votes

How to deal with an inappropriate greeting in an email?

I would simply reply: Dear Student, thank you for your email -- I really appreciated it -- but in the future please avoid addressing professors in an unprofessional way, like "lass" or "lad".
Massimo Ortolano's user avatar
118 votes

Why do Americans care so much about recommendation letters?

I think Bryan's answer gives a nice perspective on the issue. A perfect system does not exist, and different continents have developed different (imperfect) ways of dealing with the fundamental ...
xLeitix's user avatar
  • 136k
118 votes

Is it valid to modify a student's exam grade if you feel they did not earn it?

Since you ask, specifically, about legality, I'll say that it is unlikely that it would be a matter of criminal law anywhere, though, of course, I can't know the laws of every jurisdiction. But it ...
Buffy's user avatar
  • 370k
116 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to call a professor by their last name with no prefix in a non-academic setting?

I wouldn’t find it rude, but I would find it weird. I can’t think of any situation where you wouldn’t be better off using a first name instead of a last name without a title. If you’re going to be ...
Noah Snyder's user avatar
115 votes
Accepted

Professor creates assignment making students advocate for a bill being presented to Congress. Is this legal?

While it is certainly ethically and morally questionable - do consider how much you are willing to take this battle as a representative of justice or students or whatever. You can avoid conflicting ...
Stian's user avatar
  • 1,767
113 votes

Professor falsely accusing me of cheating in a class he does not teach, two months after end of the class. What precautions should I take?

@JeffE recommends in a comment: Discuss your situation with the department chair and your previous instructor, and keep careful documentation of everything.
113 votes

Is it appropriate to give a student a "negative grade" (fewer than zero points) for a small portion of the overall grade?

I'd recommend that you not lower the grade below zero (0). This seems to represent "lost all points for this category", which seems roughly appropriate. Moreover, I think in cases that are ...
Daniel R. Collins's user avatar
109 votes

When should a professor recommend a student drop out of college?

Based on what you reveal about yourself by asking this question, I recommend that you give up your career as a college professor Actually I don’t really mean that. I take it back. I only wrote it to ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
106 votes

Is it an insult to my US university to not walk in graduation?

If attending a graduation ceremony is not your cup of tea, you don't need to go. Better to stay away than to go and be uncomfortable! It would be considerate to let your department know that you won'...
aparente001's user avatar
105 votes

Is it ethical to tell my teaching assistant that I like him?

I'd like to add that there is another reason for waiting until the class have been over for a while. There's a phenomenon of "love for authority." It happens a lot in academia, where the instructor ...
B. Goddard's user avatar
  • 7,862
103 votes

Do universities care about bias experienced in group projects?

I'm going to come this from the other (probably less popular!) direction. I see no evidence of racial bias in your description. Of course I wasn't there and can't judge it, but to me it seems like ...
cag51's user avatar
  • 70k
103 votes

Is giving condolences to a professor socially acceptable?

It's not merely perfectly fine (e.g., in the U.S.), but a very good thing to do. (Conceivably in other cultures it could be construed as too intrusive, we must acknowledge.)
paul garrett's user avatar
  • 89.1k
103 votes

Is it appropriate to give a student a "negative grade" (fewer than zero points) for a small portion of the overall grade?

Your student is being graded on a lot more than just attendance, so I assume the purpose of the attendance grade here is primarily to encourage attendance, rather than that attendance is absolutely ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 120k
101 votes

Can leaked nude pictures damage one's academic career?

I think you can generally trust faculty to be adults when it comes to graduate admissions and a tenure track job. The biggest problem I would see is when you teach (future undergraduate) students. I'...
RoboKaren's user avatar
  • 40.4k
101 votes

Can a professor ask for money directly from students to print out handouts for class?

A professor should not be asking directly for money from the students. If the professor is scanning and printing things out for the students at her own expense, then something is wrong. Either the ...
aeismail's user avatar
  • 174k
101 votes

Can a professor tell you that you can’t use your phone before or after their class?

I think your description of what’s going on is misleading. The professor is not “telling you you can’t use your phone before class”. He’s telling you you can’t use your phone before class in the ...
Dan Romik's user avatar
  • 191k
101 votes

Is Relocating Necessary in Academia?

There are exceptions in some specific fields (for example accounting) where corporate jobs are much more attractive than academic ones, but, in general, an academic considers themselves very lucky if ...
Alexander Woo's user avatar
100 votes

Need help with students who've turned my class into a dating service

Contact your school's Title IX coordinator. All schools that receive Federal funding in the US must have one. Since this situation is creating an adverse experience for the women in your class, it is ...
Technically Natural's user avatar

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