A Few Ideas for Improving the Professor/Student Relationship

Turning your calendar to the “December” page, a squared off area filled with assignment after assignment smacks you in the face: finals week. In preparation, stress levels rise and complaints begin to trickle from your mouth. “Why does my professor think his/her class is the only class I am taking?” you cry, frustrated by the disgusting amount of work you have to complete in the span of one week.

I, too, have pondered this question many times. It seems that the majority of professors have forgotten what it’s like to actually be a student. They honestly do assume that their class is the most important class available at your university and you have oodles of hours to read 20 chapters of Herman Melville in 3 days.

Raul Ramos, a professor at the University of Houston, acknowledged his total disconnect from campus life during his first 8 years at the university. He then — along with his wife, kids, and 2 dogs — moved into an on-campus dorm in an effort to become more acclimated with the students and their college life.

Although Ramos’ example is a bit extreme and many colleges cannot afford such accommodations, wouldn’t it be cool if professors actually tried to get to know students beyond the classroom?

We’ve compiled a list of 5 ways profs can leave the lecture hall and get inside the heads of their students.

Live in a double dorm room
A step beyond Raul Ramos’ experiment. What better way to get to know your students than to live with them?¬†Hopefully, living with a sexaholic-alcoholic roommate will allow them to sympathize with the students that find it impossible to get anything – from studying to sleeping – done in their room.

Take your students out for beers
Getting drunk with your underage students may be crossing some sort of ethical line. But, if they’re all of age, no harm done. I’m sure many professors remember the days when they were students, the drinking age was 18, and heading to the local pub with their college teachers was no biggie. Why not bring back those days and chat about more than just papers and homework with your students. And maybe play some Quarters.

Pull an all-nighter in the library
My political theory professors constantly discuss thought experiments. Why not try a real-life one? Head to the library, pillow in hand, and try to knock out a 15-page paper in several late-night hours. Better get it done, though, because you have another 15-pager due the next day. These sleepless hours will hopefully garner a bit of empathy in professors for their students.

Host a theme party
Well, this could be a bit awkward. Especially if it’s an “Anything But Clothes” party. But, at the same time, who doesn’t want to see their goofy Econ teacher in dressed as a cocktail?¬† There’s no better way to get to know your students than by creating a light-hearted atmosphere with plenty of jungle juice to spare.

Go to class hungover
Welcome to the life of a college student. No matter how intriguing your 8:45 lecture is, if a student is hungover, they will not care. Granted, most students try to avoid going to class hungover. But, it happens and is one of the greatest reasons students fall asleep when listening to a monotonous teacher read directly from a PowerPoint presentation. After going to class hungover, you may be inspired to spice up your classes a bit in order to keep students interested. Or at least understand how terribly awful it feels and be a little more accepting of the fact that they even showed up.

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