Your professors — Just what is the point?

I hope everyone who comes across this post will read this article and comment.

What is your relationship to your professors? Do you want to talk about course content? Are you interested in your classes? What BIG questions about life do you have that you think college should/could address? Did you come to college with BIG questions?

“What’s the point of a professor?” New York Times, May 9, 2015.

The article is by Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory, a senior editor at First Things and the author, most recently, of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30).”

10 thoughts on “Your professors — Just what is the point?

  1. Reina Datta

    This article is very relatable to me, as a transfer student from a big school. I started out my freshman year in introductory business classes of up to 600 students. All of whom were GPA focused and resume-building hungry. They give off the vibe that the grade is the most important thing, and that what the professor is preaching is simply a note to memorize for an exam. My feeling is that teachers sense that vibe, and therefore, only put forth as much effort or enthusiasm that will get them their paycheck- redirecting their efforts towards research. For students who are more independent learners, this doesn’t pose much of an issue. For the minority students in the 600 person classes who yearns for teacher attention, the impersonal lectures and minimal office hours are insufficient. This back and forth between who can care the least eventually diminishes the importance of learning and makes earning a degree not as rewarding.

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  2. Mona

    I transferred from VCU where the classroom capacity was larger than here at Mary Washington. To be able to have a more personal relationship with a professor is key to me. Its important to feel comfortable to ask questions whether its in class or one on one with a professor. Although it may seem silly, having the professor call you by name gives me a comforting feeling. Having them know what I’m specifically struggling with is so very helpful. Being able to have more time and opportunities to speak to professors made me realize, like the article says, that professors treat you like a colleague. To me that’s not a bad thing, it makes me feel like the adult I am unlike in high school when the teachers would make you feel like a child. I used to be a little timid from asking questions in a huge class with hundreds of people at VCU, now I feel a little more confident asking questions in a smaller class with a professor I’m comfortable with and know would answer the question in great detail trying to get me to understand

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  3. Lauren Rainford

    As I was reading this article I became increasingly aware of the fact that this does not apply to my personal experience at Mary Washington. While I spend limited time in the offices of my intro level professors, I have great relationships with my professors in my majors. As I sit in Monroe, reading a book for my next class, I am approached by at least three professors within the hour. They ask me about how my classes are going and they talk about theirs. One of the greatest aspects of Mary Washington is its small class size because professors can get to know us, get to know what we’re interested and how we think. When I go to the office hours we’ll talk about assignments or how I can better my writing. I know this is true for most students here, but I find professors to be an incredibly valuable resource to starting my future. They become colleagues and contacts. People who can help us get in the right direction. I think the point of a professor is to have a professional mentor to help us learn to think more critically and write more eloquently and I have yet to meet a professor here that doesn’t meet up to that definition.

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  4. Maureen Sullivan

    From my past experiences I am happy to say that I have always had positive relationships with my professors. I have noticed that even when I am struggling in a class that my professors are always willing to meet with me whenever I need it. What I have noticed about professors here is that they are always willing to help students whenever necessary and it never seems to be a burden to them. Even though these professors deal with a multitude of students on a daily basis, they always make one on one visits very personal which I very much enjoy.

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  5. Caroline Petro

    When first coming to college, I did not go out of my way to get help from my professors. I figured that I could do it on my own, however, I came to realize that I was mistaken. As soon as I became more proactive in the relationship that I held with my professors, I noticed an immediate difference in my school work. And in addition, I was able to develop very good bonds with some of my teachers. In my opinion, it benefits both the professor and the student. The student goes to the professor seeking help and comes out more prepared, and the professor sees that this student really cares about their class. I think if there is one things i would encourage students here to do is to go get help! Your professors want to help you. Not many other students get that at other schools. But here at mary wash the professors really care about the individual student, and everyone should be taking advantage of that.

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  6. Rebekah Funkhouser

    This article reminded me of the reasons why I choose UMW over JMU. I went to a small high school with only 400 students total. I knew I also wanted a small college. I am able to have a relationship with my professors. My professor asked to speak me after class and I was terrified and thought I was failing or something. However, my professor just asked me what my passions and goals were. In another class of mine my professor let us know that we could come to him before we turn in the final paper for feedback. The best part about Mary Washington is the close community. Here I am not just a number in 300 person classroom.

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  7. Jim Bramnick

    As I read this article and the posts of some of my classmates on this subject I became increasingly aware that my experience here quite differs from the experiences of others at larger universities. Some of the people who commented on this post say that they transferred here from a school with very large class sizes and got a much different experience than they did when they studied at their previous university. The differing experience was what the articles point was in the sense that at Mary Washington we actually get the time to get to know our professors quite well. While it is true that for most gen ed requirement classes I do not speak to my teachers much just learn the material for the exam, for the professors in my major it is quite different. I actually recall this past week going and talking to one of my Computer Science professors just to talk about his previous work in the field before he became a professor so I could better understand what it takes to work in my field and also just because I enjoy listening to people talk about math and computers and coding, anything like that. So I am glad that we have the opportunity at this school to have the time we want to nerd out with our professors, I definitely do thing it benefits us as a young adult to have such role models in our lives.

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  8. Kayla

    This article actually further backs up my reasoning for going to a smaller school. I came from a very large high school, with 2500 students and classes that had up to 40 people in them. At times, I felt like a number in the eyes of teachers even though I understood how difficult it is to handle so many students. I am a person who needs to talk to my professors, especially one-on-one because I better understand it that way. I basically live in Jepson along with the small amount of physics professors which has that close-knit community feel and I love hearing their inputs on the millions of questions I have. It is true that for gen ed classes I don’t communicate with the professor as often, but I still try my best to communicate so if i do need some help, they know who I am.

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  9. Erica Parker

    I did not even notice the one on one attention I get at UMW until I read this article. Like someone else had commented, I do not really talk to my professor from my non major classes, but at the same time I know that is an option. They are always so welcoming and always encourage visits during office hours. Professors in my major I can find myself in a conversation with anytime. I still have respect for them, but at the same time I feel very comfortable with them and very ok with talking to them about my time at UMW and my future.

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  10. Lostinwonderland

    I agree with the majority of the comments above, in fact I think smaller school are much better, since it’s individual focused, unlike in larger schools.
    I think I have good relationships with my professors I always show respect, and like to chat with them here and then.

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