You may arrive to class and discover from the syllabus that this instructor seems pretty lackadaisical about what goes on in class. Maybe she does not take attendance. Maybe she doesn’t take off points if you turn in assignments late. Maybe her instructions are really vague because she apparently just does not care. Before you rejoice, keep in mind that, just because your instructor is lenient, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the class. In fact, getting lulled into a false sense of security could be detrimental to your success. Consider the following:
1. Some instructors don’t take attendance because they know that when you don’t attend class, you are only hurting yourself. You didn’t hear the lecture, so now you don’t know what’s on the test. You didn’t workshop your draft, so now the final draft is likely to get a lower grade than it would have if you had done the work. You didn’t hear the instructor’s explanation of the assignment, so you did it wrong. See a pattern?
And even if you think you know what’s going on, you might not. How can you know what you don’t know? Thought you knew how to write an essay? Turns out the instructor doesn’t want anything like your high school teacher required. But you weren’t in class to hear that.
2. Some instructors don’t take off late points because they know students seldom use the extra time to their advantage, anyway. You might think it unfair your classmate got an extra week to turn in the essay, but probably the student wrote it the night before anyway, and didn’t actually work on it for seven extra days. This might seem nice at first, but because they took seven extra days to finish the assignment, now they’re behind on the next project and they’re going to have to decide if they’ll rush it to completion or fall even more behind. You don’t want to find yourself in that position.
3. Some instructors write vague instructions, but still expect stellar work. You might think that a sloppy assignment prompt means you can turn in whatever you want and you’ll get by all right. You might be correct. But you might not. Some instructors are hand-wavy about their assignments and expectations, but still assume students are going to produce good work. If you can, try to get your instructor to clarify expectations as much as possible.