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Dear Athena: My Professor doesn’t care about our class.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Dear Athena is Her Campus Oswego’s Advice Column. Click here to submit (it’s completely anonymous)!

Dear Athena, 

“Are the on campus counseling services worth it? I really need to talk to someone but I don’t want to waste my time.”

— Therapist Wanted

Dear Therapist Wanted,

The Counseling Services Center is absolutely worth going to! Not only would you not be wasting your time, but you pay for those services, and therefore, should definitely utilize them — whether you just need someone in a crisis or for long-term care. I myself see a therapist through the Counseling Center and my experience has been incredible. 

I definitely understand the skepticism, though. Until the beginning of last year, I saw a therapist outside the school until she could no longer take my insurance. When I first came to Oswego, I thought the Counseling Center would be like what the guidance counselors in high school were like — there to pacify me until I graduated. However, the Counseling Services Center has Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Licensed Marriage & Family Counselors, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and psychiatrists they partner with to provide medication to students. These people have real degrees and training in how to help you through what you’re going through.

I will also warn you, as a student who is graduating and trying to find care outside the school for after college, it is extremely difficult. The waitlists in CNY (and everywhere right now) are extremely long, trying to make sure they take your insurance is a hit or miss, and many therapists simply aren’t taking any new clients, even for a waitlist. Furthermore, if you do manage to find a therapist, you could not be the right fit and then you’re back at square one. As a student, it’s best to take advantage of this resource if you need it. Trying to find someone outside the college might be more of a waste of time than just calling Counseling Services. As a final note, I hope that whatever you’re going through passes and you get the help you are searching for. 

Dear Athena,

“How do I deal with a professor who doesn’t care about the class but grades super harshly? The rest of my class seems to be breezing through the material while I’m stuck. He gets mad if we ask questions that seem ‘dumb’ and so I’m falling way behind because I’m too scared to talk. He also never comes to office hours or answers emails.”

— Professor Probs 

Dear Professor Probs,

I’m sorry to hear about your experience. In my own personal belief, there is no such thing as a “dumb” question, because if the question is so basic, it shouldn’t take too much time to give it an answer. There are a few different things you can do to help yourself, depending on how proactive you want to be right now. The first thing I would suggest is to go to the tutoring center to see if there is a tutor for your subject. If there is, this could potentially help you eliminate having to go to the professor or other students. Option two is to try to make some friends in the course and form a study group. If the professor is as bad as you say he is, it’s highly unlikely that you’re the only student who is struggling like this. Even if you are, I bet there are people who would like to have someone to talk to about the material. Combining your talents together means that you can study more efficiently and effectively, as well as help each other out in the course when someone is too shy to talk. Encouragement from your peers is so powerful and important, I’d highly recommend doing this even if you find a tutor.

The last option (which I still do recommend), is to contact the Chair of the department. Your professor is required to be available to you during some form of Office Hours. If he’s not even responding to emails to schedule meetings with students when he doesn’t show up to the hours he put on the syllabus, that’s a problem for everyone in his courses — not just you. Politely explain your problem in the same way you have here and state you’d just like the Chair to reach out to the professor to see if this can be resolved. If the Chair refuses, or if your professor is the Chair…it’s time to contact a Dean. I know how minor an issue this may seem to do all that, but professors should not simply ignore and blow off struggling students. However, I understand that some people aren’t comfortable with this, which is why I recommend the tutoring center and finding some friends in class first. I wish you the best of luck navigating this course, and I have all the faith you can do well!

Shannon Sutorius is an award winning 23-year-old English major, over 40-time-published author, editor, and former Teaching Assistant currently attending SUNY Oswego who graduates in December of 2021. Shannon is one of the current Campus Correspondents for Her Campus Oswego, previously Senior Editor, and currently writes the Advice Column, "Dear Athena." Shannon has worked with and been published in Great Lake Review, Medium, and Subnivean. Shannon's awards include the Edward Austin Sheldon Award, Pride Alliance's Defender of LGBT+ Rights in Journalism Award, and the Dr. Richard Wheeler Memorial Scholarship. As well, Shannon is an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She currently lives in Oswego and has a dog named Nugget.
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