What to do When Things Don't go According to Plan

By Pamela Johnson, August 2015

When life throws you a curve ball you readjust, but when you cannot readjust what do you do? Talk to your professor.

In 2012, life threw me a curveball. I fell behind in my coursework due to hospitalization. I needed time to recuperate. I contacted my professor via email to report the unfortunate state of things. Sometimes, it may take as long as 48 hours to get a response from a professor, but I was contacted in less than 24 hours. When I was released, the professor was in contact with me to make sure I understood the missed assignments. I did not complete the class on time. Nevertheless, I eventually successfully completed the class.

Communicating with my professor was key because a problem existed that required advisement on the appropriate steps to take to complete the class without being penalized. Currently, I am working on my Capstone for graduation, and communication is still key. There are guidelines for writing and submitting the Capstone project. Two requirements are that the Capstone must be written in APA and it must adhere to OGS standards. I communicate with my professor to make edits to the project so that it aligns with APA style and OGS standards. I ask for guidance and input because she is knowledgeable about in the subject matter.

Sometimes life gets in the way of completing assignments, family matters arise, or things just do not go according to plan. Those times it is nice to have a back-up plan, but when your back up plan fails, and you have exhausted your resources, it is time to communicate with your professor because your professor holds the key to your success. Let's face it, we are all returning college students, have busy schedules and are trying to balance life against family, work, school, and community—we all need help sometimes. How will the faculty and success coaches know how to help or that you even need help unless you tell them?

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Top 10 things you should communicate to your professor:

  1. When your technology at home goes down or bad weather interferes with you meeting an assignment deadline.
  2. Illness/family illness that may interrupt attendance or interfere with completion of an assignment. This includes short or long-term hospitalizations.
  3. When you need time off from school.
  4. When the technology in the classroom is not working properly.
  5. When you need extra time or extra help grasping a concept.
  6. When there is a problem obtaining books in enough time to start class.
  7. When team assignments are scheduled.
  8. When teleconferences will be missed.
  9. When you need a reference.
  10. When you need to discuss matters of an internship or capstone.

About the Author

Pamela Johnson has a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications. She sat on the Board of Directors at Friends of Residents in Long-Term Care, was secretary and member of the Adult Care Advisory Committee, and ESL Volunteer at Interfaith Refugee Ministries.