What should I expect from my professors?
College is a confusing time for many. In particular, many 17 to 23 year olds are experiencing independence from their families with the increased expectations of higher education. Where do your professors fit in this world as it pertains to relationships?
Firstly, not your close friend
In an undergraduate, your professors are not adversaries, but they should also not be your close friends. That type of relationship may develop once you complete your undergraduate, and you might spend time with your professor in some leisure activities, but you shouldn’t be spending too much time together in instances such as time at a bar or romantically. Instead, your professors should be trusted more experienced adults.
These are the people you can go to to get advice on your career, your education, and some of your challenges. Expect them to learn about you and your goals and aspirations, but don’t expect them to be your close friend.
They are not your adversaries
Just because a professor is teaching your class and giving you grades, they are not your adversary either. The reality is grades are meant to be an assessment of your learning (a feedback process) that allows you to figure out how you are performing at learning. Many students may feel that the professor is attacking them personally, but hopefully, your teachers are trying to provide you with a fair feedback system in which you are being assessed based on your performance.
Similarly, you are not in competition with your peers either. There might be some friendly competition with them, but in reality your peers and your professors should be part of your allies in helping you (and them) succeed.
Trusted adults who guide your learning
In the end, you are hoping that your professors will guide you for the better. This means that the relationship is not that of strangers, but not of close friends. Your professor will be honest with you in terms of how you are progressing. They are not perfect and will make mistakes, and similarly, you are not perfect and will make mistakes. They will be honest and provide you with feedback to help you learn and grow. They are not your parents. They are not your enemies. They are useful in providing career advice, but remember their career is in academia. They only differ from you in terms of experience, but they have also spent significant time thinking and working in their subjects.