Reading Between The Lines: CULPA Translations For New And Returning Students

Unsure if that CULPA review trashing your Intro to Comparative Politics teacher was written by a prophetic sage or a bitter slacker? Read on for one senior’s insights into the complex world of Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability.

1.     “If you disagree with them, you will be humiliated and your grades will suffer”

Translation: I thought I knew more than the professor. I was wrong. I remain angry at them for unveiling that my overcompensating class participation serves as a mask for my academic and personal insecurities.

2.     “He is sooooo sweet”

Translation: Professor is a doddering older man who cares about his students. This might not be relevant, and he may or may not be a good professor, but I kinda wish he was my grandpa.

3.     “Ah, Professor ______, what a joyous experience I had in your class.”

Translation: I was not there to learn, but class was entertaining and worthwhile due to the antics, personality, and cheerful manner of the professor.
Teaching ability - likely somewhere between mediocre and atrocious.

4.      “In my experience, they seem to not understand English very well.”

Translation: I don’t mean to be a racist asshole, which is why I’m wording this delicately. The truth is, I’m pretty sure they didn’t understand any of the questions I asked them, whether in class, after class, or in office hours. I’m sorry but it has to be said. It was a problem.

5.     “If you’re someone with a background in philosophy, do yourself a favor and don’t take this course.”

Translation: I am a self-taught, world-renowned Plato expert who probably should have been teaching the course. Dr. Okihara is a bland, unimaginative woman who devoted the semester to helping the other students understand Plato. This, rather than engaging me in a collaborative dialogue based on my profound understanding of the material. Never called on me again after I embarrassed her in the second lecture with a brilliant soliloquy on the true meaning of the Allegory of the Cave.

What a disappointment.

6.     “TAKE THIS CLASS”

Translation: THIS WAS A REALLY GOOD CLASS, BUT PROBABLY NOT FOR ANY OF THE REASONS YOU WOULD WANT TO TAKE IT. NO, THIS REVIEW WAS NOT FOR YOUR BENEFIT, BUT FOR MY OWN AMUSEMENT. IN FACT, IT IS ALMOST SURELY NOT USEFUL FOR YOU AND MAY EVEN BE MISLEADING DUE TO THE OVER-DRAMATIC CAPS LOCK IN WHICH I CHOSE TO WRITE “TAKE THIS CLASS.”

7.      Professor has a silver nugget

Translation 1: Somewhere between a pretty solid and a phenomenal professor. Students and CULPA moderators have taken note.

Translation 2: terrible professor. Who knows why the hell this person got a silver nugget. This is some seriously misleading malarkey.

8.     Professor has a gold nugget

Translation 1: This professor is phenomenal. Drop everything and take their class – they go above and beyond to craft their syllabus and instruct their students, and they are also brilliant. They are at the top of their field and yet they remain shockingly accessible to help you write your paper.

Translation 2: This professor is a polarizing cult of personality. They are smart – that’s for sure. Are they a good teacher? Up for debate. But they are definitely smart. You might enjoy this class, because they’re so smart and you’ll seep it in. But you might hate the class because they are so smart that they are an asshole. Proceed with caution.

9.     “Very dedicated to his students, in a kind and also neurotic and overbearing way. commutes from philadelphia but is willing to skype with you, in his pajamas, and send you weird emails about your potential”

Translation: “Very dedicated to his students, in a kind and also neurotic and overbearing way. commutes from philadelphia but is willing to skype with you, in his pajamas, and send you weird emails about your potential”