Avoid These Myths About College Professors

Many young children are surprised when they encounter their elementary school teachers at the grocery store—they believe that their instructors exist only in their classrooms. While they soon outgrow this belief, myths about educators continue to persist as we grow older. Many students begin college with pre-conceived notions about their professors, or they are subjected to these myths when they reach their campuses. Avoid these myths about college professors:

College professors are unapproachable

Many students think that class time is the only opportunity to speak with an instructor. Especially in larger classes, it can be difficult to develop a rapport with your professor, and certain students interpret this as being unapproachable. This is not a beneficial myth to believe, as it makes the instructor, who is supposed to be teaching you, feel like someone you cannot visit with questions or ask for help.

In reality, college professors are generally very approachable. They often have office hours during which they can meet with you, and they are typically happy to answer calls or emails. Since they are quite busy, it is best to check your syllabus to see if they have a preferred mode of communication. If it is not indicated, ask them before or after class. Speaking with instructors for the first time can be intimidating, but their job is to help you and instruct you. Professors will often work with you to clarify assignments or their requirements for courses. Additionally, they can prove to be valuable assets, as they can provide you with ideas for resources in future studies. They can also be mentors for your “next steps” in and after college. Here are some great tips on how to make a good impression on your college professor.

College professors do not care

There are many versions of this myth—that instructors only care about their research, for instance—but they all involve the belief that college professors do not care enough about teaching or students. This is a dangerous myth, as it makes it difficult to care about your coursework or your assignments if you believe that your professor has little interest in your success.

The truth is, your educators do care. Most are very passionate about the field they teach, and they want others to be excited about it, too. Professors want their students to be successful, and they will often take extra time or make extra effort to help ensure you do so. However, professors also realize that their students (unlike the students of teachers at lower grade levels) are adults—adults who are personally responsible for excelling in college. They, therefore, see it as the student’s responsibility to approach them with questions, inquiries, or concerns. Here are four myths about college classes that you may find useful.

College professors expect too much

College can be difficult, and the expectations in college are often much more stringent than those in high school. For some students, it can seem as though the instructor is expecting too much. When they ask students to read a great deal, write often, and complete a wide variety of projects, some people may wonder if the professor realizes that they have other classes—or, for that matter, a life outside school. When students fall into the myth of believing that their teachers expect too much, it is easy to become complacent and concoct reasons for not completing work. These are some great approaches to studying in college.

In actuality, college is demanding. Your professors will expect a lot of you, but it is not likely that they expect too much. Your professor has a relatively short amount of time (one quarter or semester) to teach you a large amount of material. He or she is responsible for ensuring that you understand that material and can demonstrate as much to the instructor and to the greater academic community. In the short time that professors instruct you, they are preparing you for a future career or future schooling. 

Be aware of these myths about college professors. Analyze these myths and seek out the truth in order to better your college experience.