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Editorial: Professors must challenge students

The value of my college career depends on our relationship. The relationship is evolutionary and revolutionary. It’s symbiotic. This isn’t a natural pairing; it takes work.

We go to college to hone four traits: intelligence, experience, talent and education. Many of us are as intelligent or as talented as our instructors; that cannot be taught. Knowledge and application can. A professor’s purpose is to transfer his or her experience and education to students in order to improve the future of society.

To do that, you must teach, challenge and mentor us.

To do that, we must establish mutual respect.

Sometimes our instructors fail to identify boundaries. We can learn from those who are not our friends, but we cannot learn from those we don’t respect. If you’re more concerned about being liked than teaching, you’re robbing us. We’re spending thousands of dollars to be prepared, to be mentored so that we can succeed in and change the world we’re about to enter.

Newton’s third law of motion states for every action, there’s an equal reaction. In our case: equal effort, equal investment. We have the opportunity to grow and be challenged—in class and out–as a catalyst for development. As student, we must rise to that responsibility.

But both professors and students must understand that they are not equals.  Professors sometimes forget they’re working with students. Professors must exhibit patience and understanding. Be flexible. Motivate rather than mollycoddle. If you do your part, trust that we’ll do ours. Equal effort, Equal investment.

Relate to us, but don’t indulge or befriend us. Push us. Challenge us. Make us uncomfortable. As Farrah Gray would put it, “comfort is the enemy of achievement.”

The same goes for individual focus. Time should spent equitably. Helping an individual student at the expense of others, or paying too much attention to the loud-mouth guy in the front trying to impress the girl behind him, wastes limited time and attention. If we have issues, it’s our responsibility to approach you outside of class. That’s part of our growing process. As part of our preparation for life, it’s better this way.

We are working to be professionals, so let’s keep the relationship professional. Being buddies with a professor can interfere with our careers. Coddling rather than challenging us disrupts the future of society. In a few short years, the country will be in our hands. Perhaps that’s a scary thought for many of you, but it’s exciting to us. Make sure we’re ready.

Seem hyperbolic? Maybe on the surface, but we need as many qualified individuals as possible to lift this country out of its rut. Anything intrusive to that harms the next generation.

The line must be established and respected. It may vary from professor to professor – in my case, I’m closer to my journalism professors than my Spanish teachers, but all remain professional.

None of us wants to be left in the dark about a relationship. We want to know where it stands and where it’s going. In this instance, we should know to visit you if we’re struggling with the subject matter, not if a significant other hasn’t replied to a snapchat for three hours. VSU has other resources for that.  We are asking you, respectfully, to be the ones who develop the world’s next difference makers. We’ll use your valuable experience and education in ways you hadn’t. Equal effort, equal investment.

We need you to help us better humanity. Newton’s first law is an object will remain at rest unless acted upon by another force. Be the outside force which pilots us into success.



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