Professor: A Day in the Life

You arrive at your office at 9:30 and scramble up a lecture for your 10 o'clock class.


You're a faculty member at a state university, but not a flagship school like UCLA or Penn State. You arrive at your office at 9:30 and scramble up a lecture for your 10 o'clock class. At the lecture hall, there are 125 students—even though 200 enrolled in the class. It rankles you that so many students feel they can cut class (many get the notes from the Internet or from a friend). You return the recent midterm exams, which were graded by your graduate student assistant. As usual, results were all over the map; some students did extremely well, while many failed. That's a fact of life at many colleges, which accept virtually anyone who applies. You've tried to craft a lecture that appeals to all the students, but you can tell you're not reaching many of them. After class, you return to your office and meet with students. Some are confused. Others want you to raise their grade. A few are curious about something you said in class and want to know more. After student hours, you meet with one of your graduate students, helping her craft a proposal for her master's thesis. That's the highlight of your day. After that, you check out an online discussion that's part of an Internet class you're teaching. You post a couple of comments and answer a dozen student E-mails. Next, it's off to a faculty meeting. Your department is debating whether to add another master's degree to its offerings, and the discussion is dominated by a powerful faculty member who argues that an esoteric course—which happens to be in his area of expertise—is essential. Finally, you get to work on a textbook chapter you've been asked to write.