Are You Shy? Alternative Ways to Save Your Participation Grade

Many professors include a participation grade on their syllabi. Often, this grade is some percentage of your overall grade, and, depending on the nature of the course, it can be a low percentage or a very high percentage. This is all fine and dandy for those students who have no trouble speaking their mind in class, but what about other students who suffer from social anxiety? How are they supposed to deal with it? If you’re one of those shy students, and you’re worried about your grade, then you should read on.

When you go over the syllabus with the professor on the first day of class, immediately check the participation grade to see if it might be a problem for you. If you think it might be too high to risk not speaking all semester, then talk to your professor after class. He or she should be open to talking about the course policies, so don’t be shy! This is when talking it out counts most.

It’s important that you explain that you’re not trying to get out of going to class. Instead, try to give your professor a clear sense of how exactly speaking in front of others makes you feel. You have to show that it’s more than just the desire not to look ‘bad’ in front of others. Give your professor the names of other professors with whom you’ve studied so he or she can contact them, especially if those professors gave you an option in the past.

If your professor seems like he or she is open to considering some alternatives, then have some suggestions ready. You can offer to write an extra paper on a topic of the professor’s choice. You can offer your own attendance policy, one that is perhaps stricter than that of the professor. Offer to meet with the professor after each class to talk for a few minutes or offer to write him or her an email about your thoughts after each class. All of these will show that you care about the course and aren’t just trying to get out of doing more work.

Finally, if the professor won’t compromise or has assigned a huge oral presentation as a requirement on the syllabus, your best option is either to drop the course and search for another or to tough it out. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn from the challenge?

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