Understanding What Your Professor is Really Saying


You’ll be using one of the leading textbooks in the field. – I used it as a grad student.

If you follow these few simple rules, you’ll do fine in this course. – If you don’t need any sleep, you’ll do fine in the course.

The gist of what the author is saying to what’s most important. – I don’t understand the details either.

Various authorities agree that … – My hunch is that …

The answer to your question is beyond the scope of this class. – I don’t know.

You’ll have to see me during my office hours for an answer to your question. – I don’t know.

In answer to your question, you must recognize that there are several disparate points of view. – I really don’t know.

Today we are going to discuss a most important topic. – Today we are going to discuss my dissertation.

Unfortunately, we haven’t the time to consider all of the people who made contributions to this field. – I disagree with what roughly half of the people in this field have said.

We can continue this discussion – 1) I’m tired of this – let’s quit. or 2) You’re winning the argument – let’s quit.

Today we’ll let a member of the class lead the discussion. It will be a good educational experience. – I stayed out too late last night and didn’t have time to prepare a lecture.

Any questions ? – I’m ready to leave.

The implications of this study are clear. – I don’t know what it means either, but there will be a question about it on the test.

The test will be 50-question multiple choice. – The test will be a 60-question multiple guess, plus three short answer questions (1,000 words or more) and no one will score above 75 percent.

The test scores were generally good. – Some of you managed a B.

The test scores were a little below my expectations. – Where was the party last night ?

Some of you could have done a little better. – Everyone flunked.

Before we begin the lecture today, are there any questions about the previous material ? – Has anyone opened the book yet ?

According to my sources … – According to the guy who taught this class last year …

It’s been rewarding to teach this class. – I hope they find someone else to teach this class next year.

Rules for Class Attendance

Legitimate excuses for missing class:

I was injured and was taken to the hospital (and here is the note from the doctor/paramedic/ambulance driver/voodoo surgeon).

I was sick (and here is the note from the Dean/doctor/faith healer/local voodoo priest).

I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown (and here is the note from the Dean/shrink/licensed mental health care professional).

I play competitive sports and will be away that day for a match/meet/mud-wrestling contest. (Note future tense)

My dorm room flooded/burned down/fell over in an earthquake (and here is the notice from the newspaper/the Dean/the Fire Marshal/the Army Corps of Engineers).

A close relative was very sick/injured/dying/dead so I had to fly out of town (and here is the notice from my family/the Dean/the hospital/the funeral home).

Non-excuses for missing class (All of which your professors have actually heard):

I needed to pick my mother up at the airport.

My boyfriend/girlfriend/long-lost cousin/ET arrived unexpectedly in town.

My boyfriend/girlfriend/alien lover broke up with me.

I am taking two classes whose time slots conflict.

I overslept/needed to sleep/felt like sleeping/was overcome by that soporific feeling I sometimes get in the afternoon and didn’t feel like drinking any more coffee.

I had work for my other classes.

I needed a break.

I am not interested in _____ (insert topic of the week).

I actually believed those Master Card ads that say I deserve whatever I want.

My dog/cat/goldfish/pet mongoose died.

There was a rerun of Star Trek on TV.

The lecture conflicted with my aqua-aerobics class.

I invented a time machine for my senior project and was trapped in 2071 when everyone else was in class, but I promise that three years from now, when I’ve gotten all the bugs out of the system, I’ll go back to last week and make up the class.