Students, speak up to hold expectations of professors

Izzy Abraham

As the semester progresses, students’ complaints with classes are no longer concealed.

While students are often overwhelmed this time of year when they consider the expectations for each class, it is equally important to pay attention to the expectations that students hold of professors.

Just as professors expect students to come to class ready to participate, UVM students hope their professors come to class knowledgeable on the subject they are teaching, passionate about the course material and organized for the class.

The power dynamic between students and professors is uneven, but college students are adults. With this status in mind, students should demand excellence from professors, as professors demand from students.

Ideally, a professor is confident in their knowledge of the course, prepared and excited to teach an interesting course and organized, respectful and professional in their teaching and communication methods.

Similar to complaints at UVM, college students around the country uphold that their professors are not meeting their standards.

Some common complaints include that professors don’t communicate thoroughly or respectfully with students or that they don’t have a handle on their obligations as a professor, according to a December 2013 study in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

More than one-fifth of students reported that they did not discuss a grade that they didn’t understand with their professor, according to the same study.

This was due to their professor’s lack of competence, approachability or concerns that the discussion would negatively impact their relationship with the professor, according to the study.

Along these lines, students are adults who are making an active effort to contribute to society, or at least they are preparing themselves to. Students should not feel fear to work with professors or be mentored by faculty.

Furthermore, students are not only disappointed with their professors’ demeanor regarding logistics and grading, but they are also disappointed with how content is taught.

I envision a constructive setting for learning in class, including using laptops in class, asking if students have any questions before moving on to a new topic and simply being prepared and excited about instructing material.

Students and their families devote a significant amount of time, money and energy committing to higher education.

While there isn’t a simple fix to hold professors to a higher standard, students must validate their personal complaints about classes.

They can do this by writing honestly and objectively on course evaluations and talking to professors about problems that arise in the class.

If students and professors are clear about their mutual expectations of excellence, these patterns can and will change.