The Other Side of the Classroom: A look Into the Daily Lives of Professors

Being students at Radford University, we have all been in school for at least twelve years of our lives. Our schools and teachers have made an influential impact on our lives, whether you like it or not.

Now that we are in college, it is important to take an active role in having good relationships with your professors. They can really help you map out your future and give you pointers on how to use the time you have before graduation wisely.

Have you ever thought what it is like to be a professor while sitting in your desk, scribbling down notes? Some students who ask this question may want to pursue a career in teaching or are just curious as to what it is like on the other side of the classroom. Personally, I would like to one day get my PhD and teach Political Science, specifically political theories.

I asked one of my favorite Political Science professors and my academic advisor, Dr. Tanya Corbin, if she would answer some of the questions I had about what it takes to be a great professor. We met in her office, which was decorated with many “Thank You” cards from her students. The interview went as follows.

North- “Tell me about your journey. How did you become a professor?”

Corbin- “The journey was a long one to me. I did not know what I always wanted to do. During undergrad I flip-flopped between being a Sociology or Political Science major. After I graduated, I tried to go into law and I absolutely hated it. I also went into AmeriCorps for two years to earn some money for grad school. When I started going to Claremont, some of my professors took an interest in me and recognized my efforts in research. They said I should think about getting my PhD, and here I am today.”

North- “What inspired you to become a professor?”

Corbin- “For me, its about getting people excited about politics and their civil duties and liberties. When I began my academic career, I wanted to change the world in some profound way. However, I have come to realize the way you really change the world if through inspiring others, who in turn will inspire even more people.”

North- “What do you do as a professor to establish a good relationship with your students?”

Corbin- “I think it is important to look at my students and take an interest in them as people, not just as a student ID number.”

North- “What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?”

Corbin- “Being a professor there is always a challenge to conquer. I can always engage my mind and find an answer to a question. Also, teaching in itself is an honor because I get to contribute to the development of my students. Working with young people gives me hope for the future.”

North- “What tips do you have for aspiring professors?”

Corbin- “I would say that the most important aspect of attending college you should take advantage of is building relationships with your professors and finding mentors to give you advice along the way.”

North- “As a Political Science professor, do you find it difficult to keep your opinions on matters separate from your teaching in the classroom?”

Corbin- “No not at all. I am in the business of teaching young adults how to think, not what to think. I am actually happy when I see differences in opinion among my students. I think that is important when it comes to being a part of a democratic society.”

When considering choosing any career, you have to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Having the privilege of getting a college education gives us the opportunity to study whatever field we want. Become a zoologist because you want to save tigers from extinction. Become a marketer because you want to change how manipulative ads are. Become a Political Science professor because you want to teach people how to critically think.

Being a professor is about always seeking knowledge and the truth. It is about fighting for a better future by teaching younger generations how to be educated and aware. Being a teacher in general allows you to influence young minds and shape the future.

Published by Radford University’s The Tartan on Nov. 11, 2015


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