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PROF 1010: A Guide to the Types of Professors You’ll Meet in College

The professors you will have throughout your college experience will vary wildly. You will have professors that you absolutely cannot stand, and you will have professors that you completely adore. Not all professors are the average joes you see on television. You can trust that the variety of teachers will keep you on your toes and keep your college career interesting. Here is a list of the many professors I have come across in my three years at the U. I hope it helps you be better prepared for what's to come.


1) The absent-minded professor –

This type of professor is very articulate and brilliant in their field of research, but when it comes to other topics or basic life, they are kind of a mess. They will give amazing lectures with a coffee stain on their shirt, they will be able to do very complicated research but not know that there is a difference between Australia and New Zealand, and they will keep track of your assignments, their lectures, and all exams while constantly losing their keys. These professors are very good at their job, and will often leave you wondering how they have made it this far in life. They will definitely bring some confusion and humor to your college experience.


2) The old school professor –

While this professor may not be old in years, they are absolutely ancient when it comes to technology. They will seldom be caught giving a Powerpoint presentation, they do not allow any electronics to be used in the classroom (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), and they will have you turn in most if not all of your assignments in class on paper (because Canvas is pure evil to them). In the very rare cases that they have to use any sort of technology, you can count on at least ten minutes of relaxation while they do everything in their power to figure out how to make the video have sound. Much to your despair, these professors usually get along just fine with notes, a chalkboard, and a lectern. 


3) The professor you hear about in high school (who DGAF) –

In high school, we are all told that college professors won’t care about our education, won’t explain anything, and just generally DGAF. Don’t get me wrong, most of the professors that you will meet in college will show a genuine interest in the success of their students, but I promise you will encounter at least one who just does not care at all. These professors just sit at the front of the class, speak until their time is up, and are usually one of the first ones out of the door. They can be very hard to get a hold of and can be very ambiguous about assignments and exams. If you find yourself stuck with this type of professor, odds are they will have a T.A. that can help you with any problem you may have. Become that T.A.’s best friend, and you will be just fine.


4) The professor who seems scary, but isn’t – 

Many professors can seem really intimidating at first, especially to a freshman. However, once you get to know them, most of these professors are lovely people. They are incredibly nice, giving, and empathetic who just want the best for you and your education. Sometimes they just need to get to know you before they will let you in, so introduce yourself, participate in class, and keep your fingers crossed. They may grow to be your favorite professor someday. 


5) The professor who seems scary, and definitely is – 

While it is true that most professors aren’t scary once you get to know them, every once in a while you will meet a professor who is truly as terrifying as they seem. They will easily get everyone to attend class, turn in the homework, and participate in class with their intimidating demeanor, so while you might fear for your life, you will probably learn a lot. When you encounter this type of professor, just keep your head down, do all of your work, and you should make it out alive.


6) The professor who takes their title a little too seriously – 

These professors will often set crazy rules, take phones away, always take attendance, and make sure you call them by their earned title just to show you who really is the boss. They seem to take their 1010 classes way too seriously and expect far too much out of students just trying to fulfill a gen ed. They will make you work super hard to get a passing grade in their class, and they often have multiple T.A.s because of this workload. They are always right and are seldom open to suggestions. If you end up with this type of professor, I feel for you, and I really wish you the best. 


7) The professor who treats you as an intellectual equal –   

For every professor that demands you call them "Professor" or "Doctor", there are two who treat you as an intellectual equal. These professors are the best. They treat you like the fully-fledged, university-attending, adult that you are, and do their best to make you feel like a peer and a valuable asset to the classroom. They are interested in every word you say, value your time and education, and are very understanding overall. These professors create a great educational environment in their classrooms, and if you end up with one of them, you can be pretty sure that they know your name within the first week (no matter how many students are in your class).


8) The domineering professor – 

This type of professor demands a lot from their students and holds very high standards for their performance. You may hear this professor tell the class that hardly any people (or no people) receive A’s in their class, and you can trust that this is true. You will have to work extremely hard in order to keep up with this professor’s expectations, but when the class is finished you will have learned a lot and should be very proud of yourself. You may not enjoy the process, but you will be a better person for having survived this very difficult type of professor. 


9) The grad school student professor –

When graduate students are trying to receive their Ph.D., they will often teach classes at their university. These can be some of the best professors you will encounter in your college career. While at first you may feel that you are being denied an opportunity at a very high-quality education, you may find that these professors work three times as hard as some of the professors who have received tenure. Grad student professors are trying to prove that they have what it takes to be a true professional in their field, and for this to happen, most of the students in their class will have to pass with flying colors. This means that they will truly value your input, make sure nobody gets lost in the complex ideas of their teachings, and are always open to suggestions. They are also students themselves, so they understand the struggle and will do everything in their power to make their class as bearable as possible. Through this professor, you will learn a lot about not only the topic of the class but also what it takes to be a professional in your field, and you may make a new friend.


10) The professor that puts you to sleep 

Some professors can make even the most interesting topic in the world send you into a daze that will make your hour-long class feel like years. Their class usually sounds great in theory, but they lack the engagement and anecdotal style of teaching that really makes a great professor. You will often find yourself doing homework from other classes, surfing the web, or drawing in your notebook just to keep you from losing your sanity. They will often read directly from their Powerpoints for the entire lecture and will rarely make any attempt to engage the class in discussion. These professors really do care about their areas of research, but they don’t appear to have an exciting bone in their body. With this professor, make sure you have an energy drink on hand, and just pray that they post their slides on Canvas or you may never learn anything.


11) The one who changes your life –

In college, you will have really good professors, but every so often, you will encounter a professor who takes your whole world view, spins it around, and changes the way you think about everything. These are the best possible professors to have. They genuinely adore the subjects they are teaching, are great storytellers, and have a vested interest in every student’s future. If you are lucky enough to encounter one of these professors, you will look forward to attending their class every day. You may even take a class from them each semester just because you know it will be the highlight of your year. These professors will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew and give you a new insight into the world. Most professors are good, but these professors are phenomenal and are sure to make your college experience utterly incredible. 


All jokes aside, be grateful for the professors you get. Whether great or terrible, they worked very hard to get to where they are, and they definitely deserve your appreciation.



Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11


Ry Iverson is a transgender sociology alum of the University of Utah. He grew up in Apple Valley, California and moved to Utah to be closer to family. He enjoys listening to music, reading, cooking, drawing, traveling, and helping others. He enjoys writing about his favorite TV shows, cooking, LGBTQ experiences, and advice, and in his free time he can be found laying on the ground outside taking in the world. Enjoy Ry's articles and everything he has to offer!
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