Skip to main content
Logo image

Sound Writing

Subsection 10.1.1 The New Student-Teacher Relationship

College is different from high school in lots of ways, but one of the most important changes that is easy to miss is in the relationship between you and your teachers. In high school, your teachers were proactive so that you could be reactive. This means that your teachers made sure that you knew what homework was due the next day, let you know when you hadn’t turned in an assignment, and checked in when you missed class. They initiated action, and you just had to respond. In college, you are expected to be proactive, and your professors will be reactive. This means that if you don’t understand course material, get behind on assignments, or miss class, it’s up to you to turn in assignments on time, show up to class, and learn course material. This new freedom is a good chance to develop independence and run your own life, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not aware of your new responsibility to take responsibility for your own learning and progress.
You have a different set of responsibilities and roles as a college student than you did as a high school student, and college professors similarly have a different set of responsibilities and roles than your high school teachers did. Teaching high school is a demanding job, but high school teachers are primarily teachers, which is to say that 95% of their time at work is spent focused on students. College professors are expected to be good teachers, especially at a liberal arts school, but they are expected also to be scholars who create and publish new knowledge and committee members who help run the university. Finally, college professors work with adult students, and they don’t want to treat students as incapable youth any more than students want to be treated as incapable youth.