A college system requires professors to be facilitators rather than spoon-feed students


It is perhaps not an overstatement to say that college life is the most important phase of an individual’s life. It is quintessential in making or breaking an individual. For most freshmen, it can be quite daunting as they haven’t yet got used to the system of colleges. That is because, colleges have different operational philosophies than schools. Students typically enter college with lots of dreams and ideals. It so happens that, they don’t exactly experience the reality they had envisioned. It is just that they face the reality of their misconceptions being cleared. The highly clichéd image in movies/popular media which romanticises colleges should be the last place to take first impressions from.

(Note that by colleges, I mean university-level, throughout the article)

“College teachers do not care about the students”:

Indeed, one of the most defining aspects to a college is the professors. It is true that they are expected to bestow the contents of the curriculum in the most-student friendly way possible, such that every student understands the crux of the matter and gets motivated to pursue the contents further. But, a glaring reality is that in most colleges today, the student-to-professor ratio is far from the ideal value. e.g., the strength of my classes grew from 30 to 60, to 240 as I moved from school, to junior college to college. Only successful universities like Harvard have managed to make it something as healthy as 7:1.

This inevitably creates a gap in the form of lack of proper interpersonal interactions between a student and the professor. I like to believe most professors put their ego aside and try to help the students as much as possible. It’s only that a slew of factors play a part in deterring them. For example, the professor who seemed intimidating was actually really helpful in explaining something when I approached him after class.  

One more reason why some professors might seem so bad is simply because their primary job is research, rather than teaching. The professor is simultaneously expected to excel in research and in teaching students. Most professors I know of, have had an illustrious past in research at various research institutions, irrespective of how they are in class. Thus, a professor might not have all the ‘lovely’ teaching qualities a school teacher might have. This does not mean the professor totally dismisses teaching as a priority.

An alternative reality in colleges:

The role of a school is to make one mature enough to face the challenges of life. It focusses on individual development. Accordingly, students are spoon-fed enough in their schools that they are expected to take things up a notch in college.

In college, the responsibility lies on the student to think for himself/herself and apply what he/she has learnt. 

One brilliant way to do this is to approach the professors themselves, as they should realise that professors in college aren’t as freely available as teachers in schools. (Students typically don’t realise this soon enough, and start criticising the professors in turn). It may seem difficult to do so, but it’s only a matter of going, talking and fixing a convenient time to speak with them when they’re available.  Realistically speaking, out-rightly criticising the professors will not really help anyone. Thus, in today’s colleges, it lies on the student to contact and interact with the professor, as hard as it might sound.

One should understand that, colleges demand a student to change his/her perspective on the educational ethic. In addition, it really lies on the students, and not on the professors to hone themselves. Of course, there will be flaws somewhere in any educational system, but that does not mean it should deter determined and capable students from achieving what they want.

There will be ample opportunities for a student to excel, it is a mere matter of recognising how to capture the opportunities. After all, it will be the students who will benefit in the long run if they make the most out of it. Therefore, I feel it is not wholly true in saying college is a place where only the professors are given importance and students take the back-seat. It is only a matter of perception. This is only my opinion.

Read a contrary opinion to this article here

This article is part of PaGaLGuY’s innovative internship certification programme for engineering students. Currently, two such programmes are on – one is an Internship in Creative Writing, and the other is a Certification in Digital Media. If you are interested in partaking and bagging a certificate, besides learning the nuances of effective writing, write to us at [email protected]