Because Grad School Professors Are Unique

27Aug13

“Just because you are in graduate school doesn’t mean you will have better set of professors. All of them.”

That’s what I thought. I was wrong.

Please don’t get me wrong by saying “I was wrong” because I mean “wrong” in a good way. It means, expectations did not meet reality.

When I was in my undergraduate studies, I had a set of my favorite teachers. A teacher will qualify if they meet one of the following:

  • Comes to class prepared. This can be observed if the teacher manages the lessons vs the given schedule. Punctuality enters here
  • Encourages discussions related to the current topic but keeps it to a limit. This keeps students interested
  • Stimulates thinking and further reading. Makes students relate current topics to real life outside
  • The rest belongs to the second set whose characteristics includes the opposite of the first, and the identifying characteristic of all: teachers who, at the very first day of the class, distributes the course syllabus and assigns reporters for the whole semester. Worse? No main textbook. Student reports are good, but I don’t see the point of having the whole semester depend on it. Personally, I am becoming uninterested because I get the feeling that I can read their source myself instead. Unlike when a teacher do the presentation, I listen closely afraid to lose one thought on her sharing.

    Despite the heterogeneousity, I survived college and still managed to get that prestigious title in my diploma.

    Enter graduate school. It was a dream I had right after graduation. I was able to pursue it 5 years later, also in my dream university. The University holds a prestigious image; being a student gives you a feather on the hat already.

    August 24 marked the last Saturday of my first year. For the 9 subjects (total of 18 units, 2 per subject) I had 7 professors, each with different teaching style.

    My first set of professors (not their true name) includes Prof. Wood, Prof. Troy, and Prof. Stock. Prof. Wood was a pro in his profession but the course he was assigned did not allow him to utilize on his brilliance. Prof. Troy is full of intellect and knows very well his subject that he speaks alien already. It took a while before I learned to speak his language and get on the same plane everytime he says, “I really don’t know the answer. That depends.” Assumptions must be made before an answer is considered correct. Prof. Stock is bookish and breathes numbers. Yes, he’s into stocks.

    For the next set I had Prof. Belle, Prof. Star, and Prof. Quinn. Prof. Belle is a high ranking school official and got loads of credentials. Her brilliance shines every meeting when the lights would turn off for the reporting group. Unfortunately I have to meet and live with the let-the-students-report type again. She was always busy she rarely bring down her phones. (Yep, spelled with an ‘s’). Prof. Star got some bucks an is an avid fan of Starbucks’ Americano. This professor appeals with professionals: he assigns a chapter to read and then scraps the idea during the discussion. But I see what he’d like us to learn–the basics and see applicability in real life. And of course there’s Prof. Quinn, another let-the-students-report type. With bonus features: students-to-dramatize-reports and expand-one-pager-to-fifteen-pages maximum.

    Now the recent combination of professors was the best so far. Again I had Prof. Stock and Prof. Troy. Plus a new addition to my favorite, Prof. Wow. His efforts to impart knowledge can be seen by the way he teaches–he gives his best every meeting. And being on his class is like reading.

    Let me tell this again that frustrations should not stop you from achieving your objective. And the eyes must jot be taken off that goal. Soon I will encounter another set for the coming semester. I just have to remember that however the manner of teaching, the lessons must not be spoon-fed. As a student, I also have the responsibility to ensure that in every assignment, there is a lesson to be learned. Who knows, for the second half of my life, I may (or may not) pursue the dream of becoming one of them. 😉

    J.



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