Life-changing classroom experiences don’t just come around every semester. It takes a skilled professor to draw your curiosity, open your mind and inspire you to do something great. No doubt about it—professors can make or break your college experience. Even years after graduating, you know you’ll find yourself retelling killer stories about your favorite nutty professors.
A professor with a love for their work can bring even the most aloof student to pay attention. The thing is, no matter how dull a class can get, an animated professor who’s enthusiastic for the subject can make any class exciting. “A good professor is someone who is compassionate, someone who understands, someone who cares, and someone who wants to actually see the student do better. Not just to come and teach and get paid,” UMD sophomore Jameelaa Kalmo said.
Many agree that we learn more when professors pull away from the standard “listen and take notes” strategy. While some learn best by writing things down, others may need visual or video clips to better grasp information. The secret is, students actually want to be engaged when they come to class. Aside from getting a degree why else would we be here?
3. Hands On
There’s a difference between reading a textbook and getting real, hands on experience in class. A good professor knows how to make a subject come to life. Whether that’s taking on research project in Psychology 200 or field shooting in your Intro to Journalism, a professor aims to show, not just tell.
There’s nothing more awkward than having a professor who shows up unprepared winging a half-ass lecture just to get through the next hour of class. You might think, “Would my life benefit more from sleeping here, or in my bed?” Your time is clearly being wasted. “A good professor would always have the discussed material on the exam and not just pull things out of the sky that was never discussed or reviewed,” UMD alumna Joy Okeke.With a professor who comes prepared to class, you’ll stay in-the-know for what’s being expected in an assignment or exam rather than having it thrown at you out of the blue.
There’s nothing that will bring down your day like a teacher who wishes they were anywhere else but class. Sort of seems like our job to count down the minutes till the end of class, not the other way around. A happy teacher makes a happy student. Calm described her English professor as bubbly, smiley and friendly. Who doesn’t want that in a professor?
When class begins, it begins—and when it ends, you usually have another class to sprint to make it just in time. Students have their own schedules to consider. We need to focus on homework, clubs and jobs as soon as class ends. Every minute of the day counts. Okeke said, “He should also be available for questions, on time to class and ends class on time, showing that they respect their students time.”
A memorable professor drives his students to motivate us to become our very best. They try to be a mentor for us to look up to and may even be the one person we reminisce about years later. “[A great professor is] one who imparts knowledge to students while being an active mentor for the students. Also, the professor engages in research and continuing education courses,” said UMD alumnus Ihoma Nwachukwu.
All a student needs to be put first and to have their immediate academic needs acknowledged. Kalmo liked professors who showed patience and understanding. “They went above and beyond; answered questions, made sure our needs were met,” Kalmo said. Professors who are generous with their time shows that they actually care what students learn and take away from the class.
If you’ve ever been in a large lecture hall, it’s easy to feel like a tiny fish in a large ocean. You’ll attend lecture every day, yet for the entire semester your professor probably wouldn’t know you beyond your name or ID number. Of course, that’s why it’s great to have professors enthusiastic to get to know you during office hours where for that moment, you’re their top priority. “My professors provided lectures with opportunities for class participation. With UMD being a large institution, many classes were large sized. However, the professors provided opportunities via office hours for individuals,” Nwachukwu said.
It may not be high school where we see the same professors face for a whole school year, but every semester counts. The relationship between a professor and a student is more than pass/fail; grades are 10 times more serious in college. “The one thing most [professors] had in common was their great ability to teach and to not allow students to pass just to pass, but we actually had to put in the necessary work to pass the class. No free-bees,” said Okeke.