IC Honors Advice: Writing Effective Course Comments

PrintAdvice:  Be thoughtful and specific when doing course comments.

Why: Your comments about courses are taken seriously by faculty and administrators. They do want to hear your thoughts on the course and how to make it better. Comments such as “this instructor rocks” or “this instructor is the worst ever” aren’t particularly useful.  You should provide clear examples with details to get your point across. Take some time to think about what you have to say and articulate it carefully. Written comments with numerous grammar and spelling errors aren’t taken entirely seriously. Remember, course comments are your opportunity to provide meaningful feedback and so don’t pass it up.

IC Honors Advice: Submitting Work by Email II

PrintAdvice:  When you submit a paper or project electronically, save the document with your full name in the document title and make sure your name is in the document.

Why:  Faculty get 20 or more files per class per assignment and you don’t know what will be done with the file. It may get saved to a folder for future reading or it may get printed. Either way you want to make sure your name is associated with your work. It also helps to include the assignment name in the file name, for example, save the file as LastName-FirstName-AssignmentName.

IC Honors Advice: Submitting Work by Email I

PrintAdvice: If a professor gives you permission to send him/her written work via email, always put that written work in the form of an attachment, *not* within the body of the email, unless instructed otherwise.

Why:  An attachment is much neater; it can be double-spaced and in other ways appropriately formatted.  Some professors prefer hard copies and attachments will print properly. It looks more professional, in short.

IC Honors Advice: Getting Help on Papers

PrintAdvice: Talk to professors before starting a paper and while writing a paper if you any questions at all.

Why:  Your professors want to see you succeed. If you aren’t sure about a paper then ask questions. You don’t want to spend time writing five pages if you aren’t sure what you are supposed to write about.  Similarly, if you are stuck while writing the paper then don’t wait hoping you will get unstuck. Often a quick five minute chat with a professor makes all the difference.

IC Honors Advice: Getting the Most of your Education

PrintAdvice: Focus on challenges and questions, and less about grades.

Why: Honors students are focused, driven, and goal-oriented, which are wonderful qualities. Unfortunately, when the goal is a particular grade––as in, “I want to get an A in this class”––it’s easy to get distracted from what really matters.  It is easy to focus on grades when professors give a detailed syllabus and rubrics for every assignment, and financial aid depends on the.  But let’s be honest, that’s not what professors really care about.  We care about outcomes that are difficult to measure, like your passion, curiosity, and your ability to ask great questions.  Focusing on grades makes you less willing to take risks or take on significant challenges.  A comic to contemplate: http://kiriakakis.net/comics/mused/a-day-at-the-park

IC Honors Advice: Professional Communication – Email Salutation II

PrintAdvice: Email communications should have a proper salutation and leaving it blank or using something like “Hey,” is inappropriate.

Why: Email communication to faculty should be viewed as professional communication. Leaving the salutation blank or starting off with something like “Hey” will come off as rude. It is ok to use you instructor’s first name such as Dear Tom or just Tom if your instructor has invited you to do so. If you are in doubt, then it is better to be too formal than inappropriately informal.

IC Honors Advice: Professional Communication – Email Salutation I

PrintAdvice: Use “Professor” or “Dr.” in email salutations and do not refer to your female professors as “Mrs.” unless they have requested that you do so.

Why:  “Professor” or “Dr” are the appropriate honorifics for all faculty members, male and female, unless instructed otherwise.  This matters to many faculty members for the same reason that we all prefer to be identified by our actual name, not a false name. “Professor” or “Dr” accurately indicates the professional identity of a faculty member.  Furthermore, “Mrs.” refers to a marital status that may or may not apply to your female faculty members; you should not presume that it does.