An open letter to my students

Dear students–

Today’s class was really a lecture on helping you help yourselves. I can only do so much as an instructor, but you have to put the time and effort into your coursework. You are the only person that can control the direction of your education – you get out what you put into it. That being said, I understand when life happens, however, I think that I am pretty reasonable when it comes to assignments and flexibility (perhaps, a little too flexible).

As adults, you carry responsibility – whether in school, activities, at work, as a parent, etc. – and I expect you to carry yourselves as adults inside and out of the classroom. Like I said, it’s hard being a person. It’s hard learning how to be a person because, often times, we are flooded with “should be’s.” In order to succeed as an adult, you really need to hone in on your thinking skills. Thinking is not innate – you are born with the capacity to think because we are all humans with brains, however, we must practice thinking in order to be successful, independent people.

When you receive any kind of assignment or instruction that you do not understand at first, do not fret – that’s a good thing. Take some time and really read over the assignment well – read it 3 times if you have to (or if it’s a confusing lecture, reread your notes several times). If you still don’t understand the assignment, ask people in your class about it. Talking about a difficult subject helps you learn the material and give you peace-of-mind if you are feeling inadequate in a subject. If that still fails, ask a roommate or some other pair of outside eyes to give their thoughts. If at that point you are still confused, contact your instructor and set up an appointment or meet during their office hours. It will do you well to show up to the office with a progression of your thought-process, so your professor can adjust the assignment or address the entire class about questions you might have posed. This is how a good student behaves – it shows you are invested in the class (even if it’s not your favorite one) and that you care about doing well, and maybe even that you want to learn something.

This all takes time, and as someone brought up in class today, sometimes, something has to give. That’s absolutely true. Many times, we take on too much because we don’t want to say no. But the truth is, saying “no” is liberating and it allows you to only focus on the things that matter. If academics do not matter to you, then you have no business being in college. If you take nothing else away from this class, I want you to always remember that during your time here at WT, you will experience more than the average human, but you will also soar with your new-found knowledge well past your 4 years. Knowledge, above all else, is the reason we study, is the reason we drive ourselves to learn and succeed – because without knowledge, we will suffer as a collective. If academics is where you feel you must say “no,” then be honest with yourself and see where you are meant to be – don’t do something because someone else thinks you “should” do it – do it for no one but yourself. It’s okay to be selfish in this right.

I like to think that I have these honest discussions with you all because I care about you. I really do. I care that you succeed in whatever facet of life you choose, and I hope that I can give you some of the skills in order to be successful. But, you need to help me do that, too. We work as a team to press on, to ignite that passion for knowledge, and to just be better people.

I hope we can have a fantastic midterm celebration – you’ve all earned it. See you Friday.

Best wishes,


  1. Excellent post. We do care…a lot. It’s like being a parent. You want to make your kids life the best thing you could possibly imagine, yet, they will only grow if you let them experience life themselves…both the easy, fun stuff and the hard stuff. Good for you!


    1. Thanks, Tina. I think teaching is a hard balance amid nurturing and authority. I don’t want to hinder them in their growth as a person, either, and I know all too well that I give in pretty easily. It was a tough class to teach that day, but I just want them to know that I’m there for them.


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