Higher education is having itself an identity crisis. Online institutions are challenging the traditional university model. Young and adjunct faculty are being stretched to the maximum as colleges try to stretch their budgets; older faculty members often feel pushed aside, as new technologies take center stage in the classroom. And tenure is becoming more and more of a rarity.
Tenure has its pros and cons. But one thing it generally served to do was offer a sense of breathing room, so faculty could undertake unusual projects, spend a little more time teaching rather than publishing if they liked, or generally just linger in office hours without a frantic expression in their eyes.
Of course, that may have no impact on your life as a student at all. But keep in mind: it's a stressed moment for a number of academics. I routinely work with students who are unable to get the ear of a faculty member in their specialty and feel adrift in their programs.
One thing to bear in mind is that adding more stress is not going to win you any favors. For instance, dissatisfied with your grade on a paper? If you go in huffing and puffing about the unfairness of it all, you may be treated to the spectacle of your instructor turning red with rage and shouting the specifics of her six-course teaching schedule spread over three universities. And I guarantee you won't walk out with a better grade than the one you walked in with.
So chill. Go in with a question rather than a complaint. If you're truly concerned about your grade, go and review your essay with your instructor, tell them that you want to understand what you can do better next time. If they realize in discussion that they misjudged your writing, they may decide to bump it up on the spot - or bear it in mind when they're grading your next assignment. Meanwhile, a student coming in to find out how to improve. That's a cool thing for most teachers. You're still not likely to walk out with a better grade, but you are likely to have made a good impression on your instructor and potentially initiated a professional relationship that will serve you well in the future.