Is This the Right College for You? Look to Your Professors!
How the Attitudes of College Professors Can Affect Your College Attitude
I finally mustered up the courage, first by trying community college and even seeing if I could get into the medical world in an allied health field. I mean how hard could it be?
Famous last words.
Now in the first semester it was great. One class had a one professor with a caring and helpful demeanor, who enjoyed her work, and was overall a great teacher. That summer semester when I took another class to get ahead, it was the same thing; young guy, enthusiastic, again, enjoyed what he did. Okay, good track so far.
Fall semester. One excellent professor. Second professor, (mind you I had upped to two classes now), you basically wished you were dead. This woman was as miserable and insulting as they came. Now I did not have a backbone, and basically cowered under her, while other students gave her attitude back. I did not even bother asking for help when I needed it, but hid in the tutoring lab. Now when I think back on this, how in the heck did this woman spend nearly two decades teaching when around campus she was known as the worst in her department? Was she upset that she was only teaching community college? Did she find the students inferior to the ones back in her home country? I mean, really?
Now I was not a new, fresh-out-of-high-school kid mind you. I was already 31 and, having at least gained enough life experience to believe that while I understand that people of all ages can act like punks, that should not have made her feel like she had to enforce such beliefs on ALL people, especially students. This was the beginning of the end.
The next semester was the final kicker when not only I realized I was not cut out for allied health, but I was also surrounded by professors who just seem to ooze arrogance and attitude. They wanted to weed you out, they wanted the best, they wanted you to know that they were the best. If there is one thing I hate about people it is arrogance. I do not care how many diplomas you have, how much experience, do not treat me or my classmates like we are beneath you in this world. We are where you were many moons ago, trying to find our way.
I was done.
When I went to change majors, the advisor asked me what I wanted to do after graduating from the community college. I said I wanted to go on for my bachelors degree.
She said, forget the community college program and transfer NOW! She was not insulting her program or the college but with the credits I had attained and my desire for this major, I could graduate maybe sooner than later.
She was right, but that is not the point of this story.
So I took her advice and transferred to the four year college. Now I will not lie, this time I did my research. Ratemyprofessor.com is a very handy tool even though most colleges say not to believe it. I had no choice with the allied health program because those teachers were the only ones who ran it, whether you like it or not, which of course I did not.
That website did not fail me. It gave me the gist, but I learned a whole lot more.
My first semester at the four year college, I only had two professors because I only started with two classes, one a seasoned, renowned PhD, the other just a professor. And boy was I in for a shock. These guys rocked! The PhD was humble, even though he did not have to be. This guy had accolades beyond accolades and never stopped studying or learning. He was not easy, but I'd take difficult and understanding over easy and rude any day. When I was struggling a bit he helped me thoroughly and kindly. The second professor was a little rough around the edges, but he did not treat students in a bad way. He had a sense of humor and just wanted you to do the work, which in retrospect was pretty darn easy. For the first time in months I did not feel uncomfortable or insignificant around my professors.
And it would continue this way. The professors I had were constantly learning, constantly on the go. They genuinely enjoyed their work and did not stop learning and still publishing papers. At the community college and the first four year college I went to after high school it was the opposite. The professors were arrogant with a their way or the high way mentality. They were the rulers of the program and thus you should be hanging on their every word and apologize for your inferiority. They at times almost seemed bored with the subject.
Yeah, looking back, that is how I genuinely felt. But these professors I would have 10 years later were different. As tired as I was if it was a long class, the fact that these professors showed such interest in the subject, that they let you speak and hear you without being insulting, the fact that they too were still students themselves, in some ways was mind blowing to me.
And that is what I am saying to you! Research your college, research your professors, get to know them if you can. Are they still learning? Are they still publishing? Are they out there doing their own work and research? Do other students sing their praises? Can you go to them if you need help? Do you feel comfortable in their classroom?
If you answer no more than yes, then think about doing some rearranging. Switch to other professors, change subjects if it can be applied to your major/minor. Maybe consider a new college if you still want to get your education, but are feeling like this school's faculty is wearing you down.
I am an advocate for higher education. I always will be and encourage others to do so if it is what they want. But I am also realistic. We pay thousands of dollars for college, the job market is bad, and I get that professors are often over-worked and underpaid, but there has to be a line drawn. If you are going to be an educator, EDUCATE, BUT UNDERSTAND. I am not saying professors should be your best friend and they are definitely not your parents, but at the same time, professors need to have respect, a sense of patience. Blatant rudeness, arrogance, (yes I know I used this word a lot), and lack of compassion does not a professor make you be.
I will leave with one final note. Just because I am giving advice on how to help yourself enjoy college academia, does not mean you have the right to be a complete jackass in class. I have seen students ignore the work, fall asleep in class, listen to music, etc. basically giving a figurative middle finger to the professor. Do not do that, especially to the professors who are genuinely trying to get you in tune to the subject. As tired or as bored as you are, pay attention in lectures, do the readings and assignments on time, no matter how boring or time consuming they are. Participate, ask for help if needed, show up to class unless you are genuinely sick. We need more professors like the ones I had, more educators who truly enjoy educating and not just doing it for a paycheck or an extra paycheck. If the professor is kind to you reciprocate that kindness. Believe me, it can make college a bit less stressful in the end.