How Communicating With Professors is Different Than Communicating With Your High School Teachers

Rowan Blog contributor Nick Flagg shares:Despite being a high school student only four years ago, it feels like a different lifetime. The world of academia opens up when you move on to college, especially when talking about how you both work and communicate with your teachers. And being both a Theatre and Advertising major, I feel as though I can speak on a range of experiences with various professors.”

I have noticed that the biggest difference between college and high school is that high school teachers tend to do a constant check-in with all their students, while professors expect you to reel them in as needed. The transition from high school to college takes maturing in communication skills. If you need help, you need to communicate that more to a college professor than you would to a high school teacher.

Going to college is much more of an individualized experience. It is not that the resources are more limited compared to high school; in fact, there might be even more. Moreover, there is an expectation for you to speak up when you need something. I believe high school is an experience catered to all, whereas college is what you make of it.

Though college is still a place for growth and trying things out, it is rewarding when you know what you want and set up a game plan to reach your goals. The student-to-professor relationship should be nothing less than professional, but nothing short of believing that these people are here to help you succeed. They are here to help you meet those goals and land a job after you graduate.

A faculty member speaks with a student.

I have found myself engaging more in conversation with my professors than I did with high school teachers. Hearing about their personal journey is what makes me want to focus on creating my own.

I think I speak for many college students when I say that high school feels like a general educational experience compared to college. Don’t get me wrong, I believe high school is a wonderful educational experience that everyone needs. But here I am as a Theatre and Advertising major, still waiting for the day when I will need to know that the Mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.

All jokes aside, high school allows you to see into many different courses and extracurriculars that should propel you to decide what you want to do after high school. College is where the lens focuses in on your future career, and plops you into a community of people interested in the same work as you.

When I am talking with faculty and students in my college, I feel more at home. When talking with my college professors, I am hearing many first-person experiences that set me up to figure out my own path. Getting to talk to the people who are “doing the thing” is what makes your career goals feel like a reality.

When I talk with my theatre professors, I am talking with people who have done professional work in performance. When I am talking with my advertising professors, I am talking with people who have done professional work with advertising agencies. And in most cases, aside from teaching, they are still working in their given industries. Asking your professor questions shows you are engaged and lets them know you are interested in professional opportunities beyond the classroom.

In my sophomore year at Rowan, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a research project with my Acting and Speech professor, Michael Dean Morgan. I got to work with other students to facilitate interviews with Broadway actors in New York City. Because I was able to communicate with my professor and show that I was interested in getting experience in the field work, I was able to directly hear more about the industry of my work and gain networking tools.

Pictured from left to right is Professor Michael Dean Morgan and students Nick Flagg and Maggie O'Connor from their trip to NYC in 2019.
Pictured from left to right is Professor Michael Dean Morgan, author Nick Flagg and Maggie O’Connor from their trip to NYC in 2019.

Reaching out to your professors is crucial in college. Always checking in and asking for help is beneficial for all students. We cannot do this alone. Talking with professors forms a connection that potentially brings you closer to a job in your industry. 

The first step is always showing up. And each day you show up, treat your attendance like you would treat an interview. Ask questions, engage yourself, and maybe shoot an email or two. High school is where your teachers help you figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. College professors are here to offer the resources to help you get there. 

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Story by: 
Nick Flagg, senior theatre and advertising major

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