All About College Professors

As a college student, establishing a good relationship with college professors is important. These people have an awful lot of power over students’ grades and workloads, and have quite an effect on whether students are happy or miserable.

So who are these people? How can students find good professors and avoid bad ones? How does a teacher evaluation form work? Here’s a handy guide to just about everything students need to know about college professors.

First of all, what is a college professor? What do these people do? What’s the difference between a professor, a college instructor, and a teaching assistant? And what’s the difference between an assistant professor, an associate professor, and a full professor?

Here’s a simple guide to understanding the job description of professors, instructors, and TAs. And for anyone’s who’s curious, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to becoming a professor.

So what are professors like? What kind of people choose this line of work? Actually, all kinds of people become professors, so there’s no reason to stereotype. With that in mind, though, here’s an honest and humorous look at some typical traits of college professors.

Choosing a Good Professor

Knowing how to choose a good professor is important, as every campus has plenty of good ones and plenty of bad ones. The trick is to gather as much information as possible about professors from other students, advisors, syllabi, class websites, and so forth. To help, here are some tips on how to choose a good professor.

Of course, it’s also very important to try to avoid getting bad professors. It’s important to know the difference between a hard professor, who might actually be a terrific teacher, and a truly bad professor. Here’s a guide to some of the typical bad professors who populate college campuses.

Getting Along with College Professors

Here’s something that students should understand about professors: most of them like students very much. They genuinely want students to succeed and to learn something valuable in their classes. As long as students are respectful and take a course at least somewhat seriously, most are pretty easy to get along with.

Of course, it’s also important to mention that most professors are a little temperamental. Here are some professor pet peeves to stay away from. And here are a few things that students should never say to professors.

One point that often confuses students is what to call a professor. Since some have doctoral degrees and some do not, it’s confusing who should be called “doctor” or “professor.” Some professors like to be called by their first names, and others don’t. Here’s a guide to what to call a college professor.

While some professors are very personable and informal with students, it’s always important to maintain healthy boundaries. Professors should not be treated as friends of contemporaries. One issue that doesn’t come up often, but that can be a serious issue is when professors date students. Generally, this is not a good idea. Here’s what students should know about dating a professor.

College Professor Evaluations

At the end of the semester, most professors will hand out a teacher evaluation, and students then have the opportunity to offer feedback on the course. It’s important to realize that most professors take these seriously. If students take the time to offer constructive feedback and specific suggestions on how to improve the course, the professor may well listen. Here are some tips for filling out a teacher evaluation form.

Another popular resource that some students use to evaluate teachers are online teacher evaluation websites such as These websites can be very useful to students, but students need to understand that the information on these sites is not scientific and may be biased. Here’s what students should know about college professor ratings websites.

Incoming students often don’t understand what professors do, how to choose a good one, and how to relate to them effectively. Hopefully this article has demystified the role of the individual in front of the classroom. Remember, professors really do like students and want them to do well.