Ask Amy: College Class Takes an Inappropriate Turn

By Amy Dickinson | January 6th, 2021

When a serious course turns into something completely different...


Student taking online college class Image

Dear Amy: I always dreamed of becoming a reporter, so I took “Newswriting 101” for four credits at my local community college.

Based on the catalog description, I expected to cover a lot of material and eventually transfer the credits to a university program. But our instructor, “Jack,” had other ideas.

Instead of challenging students to learn journalistic skills, Jack said he made big money posting on the internet. After covering a few basic concepts, he ignored the “boring” required textbook; he then just assigned random internet videos for us to watch.

Rather than prepare lectures, he repeatedly cut short our weekly Zoom classes; he even canceled three classes at the last minute without explanation.

I’m serious about my studies, and I want to continue; but this class didn’t give me the academic knowledge I need to build on. Should I go to the dean of the college and inform them that class time was cut by more than half?

Jack is a “nice guy,” but I don’t need a buddy. I need rigorous training for a tough, competitive profession.

I don’t want to hurt Jack during the current economic downturn, but I believe the students were seriously short-changed by the low level of instruction. What should I do?

— Reporting

Dear Reporting: I beg to differ about one aspect of your account: “Jack” is NOT a nice guy. Jack is a lazy guy who hijacked an entire class of students who paid for instruction and deserve to receive it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Jack really was making “big money” on the internet, he would not be fleecing the local community college. His online history and presence might be something to look into.

I’m impressed by your standards, your attitude, and your fierce desire to learn. You have already used some reporting skills to build a factually accurate case about Jack, and now I encourage you to take your case to the dean.


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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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