Remember in Elementary, Middle, and even High School, when you thought it was so weird to see your teachers outside of their classroom?

When you saw them in the grocery store or other “real world” location, it struck you as odd that your teachers were real people.  Once you get to college, that weird feeling is still kind of there, though it diminishes slightly because you enter a completely different world.

As a college student, you’re given WAY more freedom, your professors expect a lot more out of you, and most (the good ones anyway) are genuinely interested in your ideas.  Furthermore, professors have a lot more freedom themselves in their classrooms with what they teach and what they say and share with students, because higher education isn’t involved in the same regulations and policies that public schools face.

Therefore in college, it’s a little easier to view your professors as real people.  Just like everyone else, professors have their own personalities and philosophies of doing things, both of which affect their teaching.  As any student knows, how you’re taught has a massive impact on what you learn (Duh!), so it’s important to know the kinds of professors you may come across so you can plan accordingly.

Here are a few common examples.


The Crazy, Bitter Guy

You may have a professor who has been a professor for a really long time.  He was teaching back in the good ol’ days when they did things differently, and he feels the need to tell you how you’re just gonna go through college and end up without a job (and provides you with various articles to prove it).  He’s the man who will cuss in class sometimes, use the same notes from 1962 which he keeps in an unorganized pile, miss some shirt buttons, and hand your papers back to you, leaving them smelling of whiskey or cigarettes.  This professor will actually be very entertaining and is a nice break from your typical, serious teachers.  Just make sure to do what he asks, (meaning, don’t give him any bull sh**, which is what a professor told me) so you don’t jeopardize your grade.

The Snooty, Intimidating One

This professor will pretty much always be in a 3-piece suit and shiny shoes.  He’s (or she’s) the one who’s so proud to be a scholar and will try to impress you by reciting a Robert Frost poem at the drop of a hat or tells stories about how he was a concert violinist.  Just bear with him, and don’t be afraid to look him in the eye when you speak.  Present yourself in a professional way and always be honest.  He’s incredibly smart and will say golden nuggets of wisdom at times, but the way he presents himself can almost make you feel like you’re beneath him.  However, you’re NOT beneath him and if you realize he’s very different from you, it’ll make you truly think about what you know and believe.  Then, you’re just a few steps closer in knowing yourself, which is a big purpose of college and is extremely important in life.

The Cool, Young One

Sometimes, you’ll get a young professor who is funny, casual, and honest.  They’ll wear jeans and flip flops, and arrange the desks in a circle and sit in one of the desks among you.  They understand what you’re going through, and you’ll leave their class in such a good mood. They’re not afraid to make dirty jokes and will go out of their way to help you if you need it.  You should really try to develop a relationship with this professor because they can turn into a great friend and mentor.

The Just Cares about the Subject One

You’ll unfortunately have professors who will straight up lecture.  They’re so focused on their presentation and information that they become slightly immune to student questions.  They want you to write down exactly what they say and you’re expected to know it when asked.  Often times, these professors are active professionals in their fields so they have trouble relating well to students or portraying the subject in an interesting, clear way.  In classes like these, it’s a good idea to befriend some of your classmates so you can periodically meet for study sessions, and help each other through the pain.

People are different, therefore professors are different.  It’s key to know how they teach in order to do well in each class, but never be too intimidated to ask for help or to express your own ideas in class discussion.

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