by Tommy Gentile
Coming to college, I tried to anticipate any kind of change in my classes. But there was something that I could have never imagined. I knew the workload and the time given for me to take a class would be different but I could have never guessed that the instructors would also behave so differently.
We all have dealt with “teachers” for most of our lives. You called them by their social title (Mr., Ms., or Mrs.) and you saw them for a few hours at school – and that was it for the day. On the first day of school, they would tell you their goals for the upcoming year. These would usually be very general and elementary, depending on the year they were teaching, and could be easily changed. If you needed help, you could see them after school, but it might be a bit difficult to schedule an appointment. Your homework was also given to you a few days in advance or the night before, depending on how large the assignment was. And they would say the one line that I think every single college student in America has heard from a high school teacher, “You will never be able to get away with this in college!” Ah, memories.
And now we are all finally in college, but no one could have trained us for what was ahead with us: dealing with a professor. A title that can send shivers down some students’ spines. The differences between these new super-teachers and the teachers from our adolescent years are staggering. One of their most confusing attributes is what to call them. Every professor (when I use the word “professor” in a general way, I am speaking of anyone teaching in a college setting) has a different rule on how to address them. Some want you to scream “professor” at the top of your lungs to them like they are a great king and you are a peasant. Others still go by the high school social title rules. And still others will take the more uncomfortable road less traveled by telling their students to address them with their first name. So you somehow remember all of your teachers’ rules on greetings, and then when you need to ask them something after class, you forget what to call them.
So you might be able to remember their names, but the homework will require you to totally change your outlook on the subject. In high school, homework was given a day or two before it was due, depending on the length, right? Well get ready to change even more with a handy dandy syllabus. Immaculate angels come to sing praises around the pieces of paper that show your destiny for the rest of the semester. This mini-Bible shows tests, homework and readings for the entire semester. So instead of figuring out your homework, you actually kind of know it already. A definite plus.
Not to mention that these new, smarter teachers, come with a new and unfamiliar cockiness. Instead of a patient adult trying to help you understand why something happens, professors simply expect you to figure it out yourself. Instead of trying to help you understand a subject, like a teacher, a professor attempts to help you be able to put the subject in a practical sense, a very frustrating process. This can, unfortunately, appear cocky when the professor pushes his nose up to students and refuses to help.
But this is supposedly what college’s purpose is and why we are all here. These aspects of a professor are not exactly flaws, but something that new students can find very hard to understand. They can obviously help a student, but may cause a great deal of confusion, thus, making it more of a double-edge sword that must be used with caution.
A definite positive between teachers and professors is the ability to receive help after class. When in high school, you could only meet after school; but, you can now speak to a professor at many different times.
As you can see, there are staggering differences between professors and teachers. Each is better for his or her own age group, but it will take time to understand how to use them correctly.