Classroom Faceoff: Dress up

There has been a common debate through the years about how a professor should dress in the classroom setting: professionally-presented professors versus those who are casually dressed. Here at Rider, however, professors should look as qualified as their degrees suggest.

Professors often complain about their lack of control over students due to the absence of respect in their classes. This can range from frequent texting, being tardy or handing in homework assignments late. When looking at the possible reasons for this behavior, most professors do not even think their dress code is a factor.

Picture this: your male professor shows up in jeans and a T-shirt, and his attempt at suitable footwear is black Nike sneakers to finish the ensemble. Do not forget that he has not shaved in a few days either. Now picture your female professor wearing a T-shirt, tight jeans and flip-flops. When students see either image, it may make speaking to the teacher easier, but perhaps too easy. In return, students could subconsciously think their professor is more lenient because they dress the way many students do.

Now imagine instead that the professor is wearing a nice black suit-jacket, dress shirt and matching tie and a pair of dress shoes or a below-the-knee skirt, blouse and dress shoes instead. This professional look gives off a vibe to students that the course should be taken seriously and so should the professor. Students pay more attention to the lectures being given if their professor is adequately dressed for the classroom.

You don’t see your doctor wearing jeans and a T-shirt as he checks your heart rate or a secretary in sweatpants as she files paperwork. In a court case setting, everyone dresses appropriately — the judge, defendants, prosecutors and lawyers all look presentable for the environment they are in.

It isn’t news that the economy has experienced a down turn in recent years and that appropriate clothing can be expensive. However, these professors are teaching at the college level and receive salaries that can cover the costs of professional clothing. Dressing up shows that they take their careers seriously.

The apparel of professors is not the most important concern in the classroom, but if teachers take the initiative to wear suitable clothing for the professional world, they could potentially lower the chance of disciplinary problems in the classroom and gain more respect. As an educator, respect goes a long way, even with fellow staff members. Dressing appropriately for the classroom should be an easy way for all professors to be on level playing field.


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