One of the more common questions that high school graduates and incoming college freshman ask is “What are college professors like?”
It’s an understandable question—everything about college academics is different than high school, so it can be intimidating entering the college environment. And because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your professors, you probably want to know what they’re like.
1. The first thing we would say is that all professors are different, just like any other group of people.
Some have a great sense of humor and are a little goofy while they’re teaching, and others are pretty serious. You may also find some that might disdain telling jokes in class, but are very funny outside of the classroom, which can throw you off a little bit if you’re going to talk to them about an assignment—very surprising!
2. One thing that some students are surprised to find is that almost every professor is very willing to meet with you outside of class.
If you need more explanation on a topic, or you have questions on an assignment, or you just need some help getting started on a paper, email your professor and set up a time to meet, or just stop by during his or her open office hours.
College professors understand that not every student is the same and that one particular learning style isn’t effective for everyone, and they do really want you to learn, so they’ll put forth some extra effort to help you out.
3. One of the myths about professors that we’d like to dispel is that they’re all super liberal.
Yes, college campuses are, for the most part, liberal places, and this includes the professors. But not all of them are hippies, atheists, or Democrats, nor are they all conservative Republicans.
There’s a range, just like there is with anybody else. The campus that you’re on makes a big difference in this respect—a private Catholic school will have different professors than a public research university. But in general, you’ll have a pretty wide range.
4. One interesting thing that you may find if you’re at a very large public university is that you may not see the professor for your class very much, in some cases, you may not see them at all .
If your university is very research-focused, a teaching assistant may take over your professor’s teaching duties so that he or she can focus on researching and writing.
It’s kind of weird to have your professor not teach your class, but you’ll get used to it. You’ll still have the opportunity to talk to them, but they may not show up every day.
Just like any other group of people, college professors vary widely. If you make an effort to get to know your professor early on in the semester, you’ll find that you’re able to get a pretty good idea of who you’re dealing with, and this can help you out throughout the semester.