With two semesters to go, I have spent $33,294.17 at North Dakota State University. People tell me this amount is a bargain—the little liberal arts school across the river will charge you that in a two-week span.
Great. I’m still poor.
I’m not bitter, though, nor am I upset that I’m going to spend the next decade of my life in debt. My college experience has been overwhelmingly worth it. The friends I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve experienced, and the good professors I’ve had have changed my world.
But then there are those godawful so-called “teachers” who make me second-guess my tuition bill. Too many of us have had to endure these professors, like my future-pharmacist friend, Julio.
Julio just got into the professional program here at NDSU. You’d assume the teachers he has would be experts who know how to teach their content, right?
Julio has lecturers who will read verbatim from PowerPoint, stifle in-class questions and discussions, and demand students to memorize hundreds of terms not covered during class.
No pressure—oh, and by the by, if you bomb any test (or aren’t at least saved by the curve), you will fail the class, no questions asked. The kicker: Julio pays thousands of dollars more for his program than I do. Thousands of dollars to see how much more his saturated brain can soak in.
I get that there are smorgasbords of drugs and diseases my friend first needs to be introduced to before giving me nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory prescriptions.
But there are more effective teaching routes than rote drill-and-kill. Freshmen in the education program know this.
I know this, and as a future teacher of middle and high school students, I know that I know more regarding educational philosophy and pedagogy than some of these professors. I’m not happy about that, and NDSU shouldn’t be, either.
Let me stop my diatribe for a second for a couple disclaimers:
Higher ed. education is a mammoth topic, one that has entire blogs devoted to attempting to understand it. I only write from what I’ve seen in the trenches.
From these experiences, I also understand professors are generally overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated—as most teachers are in America.
Then you add in the X-factor, the silent monster that consumes professors’ time and zeal and life: research.
Besides its football team, NDSU boasts three things the most: being a student-focused, land-grant, research university. NDSU cares about its scholars—campus officials reclaimed a recreational field after enough students complained about its destruction! NDSU cares about its history—unlike some land-grant schools, we stay true to our inclusive roots, keeping acceptance rates high! And NDSU cares about research—ask any sleep-deprived grad student or up-for-tenure professor how much they love research!
NDSU takes in the glory of its researchers’ work, basking in glowing press releases and raking in the grant money. When does the average freshman give the university anything like that?
I like to think of myself as a realist, and I realize that professors will always have research and other commitments that hinder their teaching. Life happens, and while I think teaching is more of an existential calling than it is a profession, it still is a job. NDSU will never be some educational utopia that exists in a vacuum outside of the capitalist world.
Perhaps, though, this little post can exist as a friendly reminder to those at NDSU who neglect the education aspect of the university.
Students fork over way too much for you to not make them top priority. Remember, this university and your job wouldn’t be here without us.
There should be a reason “student-focus” is first and “research” is third in the university’s boilerplate. NDSU can’t claim to truly be #NDSUTrue to its students without addressing its educational duties.
I know I’ve been coddled as an education major. Teachers teaching future teachers, surprisingly, leads to terrific classrooms.
And I know horrendous professors aren’t unique to NDSU; compared to other schools, I’m sure we have it great. While comparisons are good for context, they are bad for progress.
Let’s stop comparing and start making a difference, starting as soon as our next class period. Enough with the status quo.
So students, speak up. Don’t depend on the anonymous survey at the end of the semester to air your grievances. Voice your concerns with a cool head and an impassioned heart when issues arise. We must take initiative and start the conversation, for our passive-aggressive ratemyprofessor.com comments do us no good.
And professors, listen up. If you expect the best from us, we deserve the best from you. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a handy listicle from yours truly that offers eight simple tips.
Students will notice you putting forth earnest attempts to teach, and with the insanity of higher education and life in general, that’s all we can ask for.