23 October 2011

On Professors

We all have to encounter them sooner or later. In the olden days, students relied on word-of-mouth to discover which professors at a school should be avoided, but now we have convenient sites like that we can refer to when choosing classes for the next semester. In my college experience, I have found that professors fall into 4 general categories:

The Professors who Dislike Having Students
Many of these professors are those who never wanted to be a professor at all. They wanted to be academics; researchers and scholars who wrote erudite articles to be published in journals read only by the upper crust of academic society. However, these intellectuals found that even scholars must eat and so they became professors, a profession which allowed them some time for research and the writing of scholarly journal articles, but not nearly enough, because of the necessity of wasting countless hours grading the papers of wretched undergraduates and replying to their redundant emails. Professors in this category are those who cancel class due to the most trivial of reasons. These professors will likely instruct their students to ask their classmates any questions about the class and assignments, rather than sending emails or, even worse, coming to visit the professor in his or her office to discuss the matter. These professors are the ones who don’t remember your name until about the last week of classes. Sometimes these professors are British. I’m not saying that there’s a correlation, but it just seems that I’ve heard the “I can’t believe that I’m wasting my time and energy on you lazy American undergraduates when I could be writing another book on the role of the chorus in Greek tragedy” speech more often delivered with a British accent.

The Professors who Want to be Your Friend
I’m sure these professors are really actually very nice people, but I have to admit that they make me somewhat uncomfortable. I enjoy and appreciate the students vs. professor dynamic in most classrooms, but those professor that insist that you call them “Steve” rather than “Professor Jonker” just make things a little awkward. These professors are the ones who invite you over to their house for movies or even Thanksgiving dinner, and the say things like, “I find students so much more interesting once I get to know them outside of class.” I know they have the best intentions, but it’s hard not to hear the creepy music playing in the background when professors attempt to prove that they can still chill with college students.
The Evil Professors
                These professors are not to be confused with professors who don’t want to have students. These professors want to have students all right, for the express purpose of making their students’ lives miserable. These are the professors who give out 213 review questions for the final exam, and end up putting just ten of those questions on the exam, with another five questions that don’t look even remotely like any of the review questions. These are the kind of professors who write midterms that require twenty pages of handwritten essays, and feign surprise when their students are unable to finish the test in the allotted time. These professors take pride in giving the highest number of failing grades in their department, and boast to their current students that the last student who got an A in their class was in 2001. They have strict rules against making audio recordings of their lecture, but then they expect to have entire lectures, complete with sub-points and illustrations, repeated back to them on tests. Avoid these professors, it you can.

The Professors that Everyone Loves
                There are some professors that students just can’t get enough of. When their name comes up in conversation, students will say, “Oh, I had her for English 101, she was so awesome! I’m taking her again for my capstone course.” These professors are sought after and coveted by the unlucky students taking classes taught by evil professors. The qualities that make a professor loved are somewhat varied, but often include leniency when it comes to assignment deadlines, creative teaching strategies (perhaps involving songs, movie clips, or puppets), a solid review strategy that prepares students for tests, and a facility for remembering their student’s names.
              Choose wisely as you plan your semester’s schedule, as the kind of professors you have will influence the way you spend your days and nights for months to come. Will you cry yourself to sleep every night because you are under the firm rule of a tyrant of a professor? I hope I won’t.
Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your professors in categories.

Cancelling classes for odd reasons should be refunded to students. Also, making students sit and watch videos while the professor is in their office should be banned. I know of one professor who made her students watch multiple videos in a semester. What a waste of class time.

Also, there are those professors who make you do everything that doesn't involve being in a classroom. I think humanities professors are a lot like this.


No(dot dot)el said...

I really enjoy the different categories you have and I would have to say it's a pretty accurate break down. I wish the ones in your number one category would hurry up and retire already. And well, the number 3's sheesh... there was one of those in my college career and because she was the head of my dept, ECE I had her for like every class. I don't know why she hated me so... but MAN ALIVE, was a I ever glad to be done with her.