By Dennis Labossiere, September 2015
Not to beat a dead horse but communicating with professors is the single most important tip I can tell everyone. I am a Teaching Assistant in the UC Undergrad program as well as being a Master's student. In both scenarios, communication is KEY! No matter the circumstance, the professors should be in the loop. The worse thing that can be done by you, the student, would be to just fall off the face of the Earth and not tell the professor. No one but you knows what you are going through, but relaying that information to the professors can save your grade(s), GPA, etc.
A Culture of Support
Communication is defined by Webster as: "a verbal or written message". The professors you will encounter in your time at UC will be beyond helpful. Most will give you their cell phone number for emergency purposes, others, will provide multiple emails to reach out to and some, even home phone numbers. The point being, if you need to talk, about anything, they are there because they were you once, and they are human. These professors understand that life happens, things don't go a certain way, and some things, are bigger or mean more to you than a class. Reaching out to the professor shows professionalism and that they are worth your time as you are worth theirs.
Things happen. Here's how you deal with it.
There have been a few times within my time as a UC Master's student where life and/or work just got in the way. You can't plan for some things. In October 2014, I took a new job that required me to move from where I was living to a new place four hours away. Since I was moving to a new place, I had no Internet. I expressed to the professor prior to the start of the class that I was moving for a new job and that my Internet would not be set up for a few days/weeks. I expressed that I would use any resource I could, for example, the public library. I stated that as soon as I had the right resources, I would hand in all past assignments. The answer I received was:
"This will be no problem at all. All I ever ask students is to let me know what's going on so I can work with them; you are already ahead of the curve. When you are expecting to turn in an assignment late all I would ask is that you give me an expected date that I will see it. It helps keep both of us on track".
Communication is the key to success.
In June, I lost my grandmother. I had two group assignments due and a final project to work on. What was I going to do? That was my first thought. My second thought was, I better communicate with my class/group-mates and the professor. I need to let them know why I will be absent for a specific time period and if they need to, how they can reach me.
In the beginning of August, I had to go to a mandatory week-long training for my job. It was going to be a four day class from 8am - 5pm with networking events from 6pm - 10pm. How was I going to do most of my school work from a hotel Wi-Fi, limited time and limited resources? I communicated with the professor a week prior and a few days before about how I would be traveling for work, and working with limited resources. I stated up front what I would and would not be able to do and expressed that as soon as I could, I would complete the assignment in full, even if it meant a decrease in my grade.
All in all, be up front and communicate with your professors. This skill is directly transferable to the job force. Communication is key to success in the work place and it is also key to this program.
About the Author
Dennis Labossiere has been attending Utica College since August of 2009. He came to Utica specifically for their Cyber program. Dennis received his B.S. in May 2013 and quickly started the road to his M.S. in August 2013. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2015 with a M.S. in Cyber Security with a dual specialization in Computer Forensics and Cyber Operations.