The Six Types of Professor You Will Have in University

Let's face it. Even if you enrolled in university purely to experience the joys of vomiting up tequila and sharing a cinderblock dorm room with a complete stranger, you have to go to class eventually. And once in class, you'll meet the fabled professor: the mythical, doctorate-wielding creature whose opinion of you will directly impact your grades and how eager your parents are to shell out for tuition next year. In fact, you're going to have all sorts of professors before you graduate/gracelessly flunk out of university. I can guarantee that these six will be among them.

The Foreign Import

On the international stage, this professor is nothing less than an academic deity. People erect statues of her in the streets, balladeers follow her from place to place to sing her praises, and she may or may not have a national holiday in her honour. If you don't go to a school that craps out Nobel prize winners the way other schools crap out mediocre poetry majors, you can rest assured that your university had to literally grovel to get this professor to even consider teaching at your school. While most professors are compensated with plain old money, this professor's contract probably stipulates that she be paid in unicorns, luxury boats and high-class prostitutes. Any student would be overcome with gratitude to be allowed to take classes with her... at least, they would, if she was still in her home country.

And now she's in a place where they can't even find her home country on a map.

Unfortunately for the Foreign Import, she's now living in the United States/Canada/England/Australia/Ungrateful English Speaking Country of Your Choice, and her new students couldn't give less of a shit that they're taking courses with a living national treasure. All they know is that their teacher has an accent and limited sympathy for their whiny, first-world bullshit. Expect to spend the semester watching your increasingly desperate professor weep bitterly into apathetic, half-assed papers while your classmates leave scathing reviews on her Rate My Prof page.

The Researcher

This professor is here for one reason, and one reason only: research. He's working on something in his lab that's going to revolutionize life as we know it; it's something so important, distracting him from his research for even a moment is technically considered a crime against humanity. The only reason that he's not currently toiling away in a Dexter's Lab-style bunker four stories beneath the earth is because he hasn't yet found a research grant large enough to do that. The only thing more ingenious than his research are his tactics for getting out of teaching courses, which to date have included hiding in the bathroom, blackmail, and challenging graduate students to cage fights.

This man would sooner fight a bear than teach Introduction to Biology.

Expect this professor to give droning, monotonous lectures directly out of the textbook, generously interspersed with material from his own research that goes so far over your head, you can look up and watch cracks form in the ceiling. Any attempts to ask questions or otherwise engage with the class will be met with a previously undiscovered facial expression that perfectly borders the line between contempt and outright disgust, as this professor thinks you are substantially less important and less competent than the algae he's working with down the hall. All attempts to "learn" and "better yourself" should be inflicted upon the professor's TA, who has a thesis defense coming up in a few months and really didn't sign up for this kind of workload.

The Recent Grad

This professor is so fresh out of graduate school, he still hasn't quite broken the habit of taking a seat in the lecture theatre at the start of class, instead of standing in front of it. Unlike your other professors, who will shriek and clutch at their chests every time they realize their students are now too young to have personally lived through the Cold War, the Recent Grad is hip and up to date on all these "memes" and "twerking" you kids are into these days. This professor is facing the existential crisis that comes from simultaneously holding a PhD and a real job, while still being young and irresponsible enough to live in a studio apartment and exist on microwaveable burritos, and he desperately requires the approval of his 18-year-old students to prove to himself that he's still cool. Above all, he wants to be your friend. He's less "Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society", and more "Ryan Reynolds in the heinously under-appreciated made-for-TV masterpiece School of Life".

Every single day of my life, I struggle with the deep, festering rage that comes from other people not understanding how great this movie is.

On your entire schedule of 3-6 classes, this professor will probably be the one who most qualifies as "fully awake and not yet a bitter, jaded stereotype of an academic, hauling his lost hopes and dreams around in a briefcase". While other professors struggle to work the projector system, this professor will expertly play YouTube videos for the class until you like him. Just beware of getting too close to an attractive professor - this is the person the HR department has in mind when they write up the student/teacher relationship policies, right behind the dirty old man who teaches Economics.

The Rock Star

When you showed up for your first day of university, wide-eyed and with liver still intact, you were expecting your professors to be a series of interchangeable old men, dispensing wisdom from behind their beards and elbow-patched tweed jackets, talking around the old-fashioned pipes they're somehow allowed to smoke in class. You certainly weren't expecting a professor like this one. Not only is this guy cool, he's substantially cooler than you'll ever be. Got drunk last night? He did body shots off a stripper. Got a little weed stashed in your backpack? He has genuine elephant tranquilizer in one pocket, and pure Colombian cocaine in the other. Spent your summer travelling across Europe? He spends his summers circumnavigating the globe on a decked-out houseboat accompanied by a Nobel prizewinner and a retired porn star. He somehow manages to be the envy of both academics and aging rock stars everywhere, which are two groups of people who don't often agree on anything.

Except school uniforms. They're both pretty much sold on those.

Class with this professor will be a series of wildly careening anecdotes that leave you feeling simultaneously entertained and inexpressibly inadequate. Though he spends less time talking about the course material than any professor you've ever met, you somehow learn more in his class than you do in any other, both about the curriculum itself, as well as some lingering deeper truths about life. Although he day-drinks in class and systemically violates every rule of being a professor, both written and unwritten, being in his presence somehow inspires you to do something meaningful with your life. Faint traces of Fall Out Boy's "Thanks for the Memories" can be heard on the wind whenever he leaves, and scientists are never able to determine why.

The Liability 

This professor has tenure, and he's not afraid to use it. You have no idea what he'd be doing without it, because it's clear that the intelligent, functional human being who presumably earned that tenure has long since taken the train out of Sane Town, leaving nothing but the deranged shell of his former self behind. Tenure was originally intended to make sure universities could keep prized academics at their institutions for the remainder of their careers, but the only part of the arrangement that matters to this man is the "you can't fire me no matter what" part. University staff have been known to succumb to brain aneurysms at the mere mention of his name, and his Rate My Prof page is so bizarre, you can't be quite sure if you're looking at reviews for an academic or plot summaries of the world's most badly-written anime.

Aliens faked the holocaust on the moon. Tell everyone.

The liability is easily recognized by the capes he wears to school, the conspiracy theories he promotes, and occasionally by the flagrantly sexist/racist/depraved things he says in the middle of class. All course material will be framed in ways that are ever-so-slightly on the correct side of the line between "crazy" and "actual hate crime", leaving the university with no choice but to keep him on the payroll. Everywhere he goes, you'll see him trailed by a pack of anxious university administrators, wringing their hands and waiting for the moment he inevitably ruins the institution's good reputation.

The Dork

This professor is supposed to be in charge of your grades, learning, and professional future, but that doesn't change the fact that you want to hug her and pinch her cheeks every time you pass her in the hallway. While her same-age peers were out dating, getting jobs and learning basic human social skills, this professor was locked away in solitude in her tiny basement dorm room, slowly gaining world-renowned brilliance while simultaneously losing touch with reality. Despite the fact that she was literally in diapers in the 1960s, the woman dresses like she just slathered herself in Elmer's glue and rolled around in the vintage section of a thrift shop, complete with crazy hair and lingering aroma of patchouli.

Like this, but with fewer predictions of your impending death.

Despite her best efforts to be funny, this professor makes jokes that are either so dated or so obscure, several minutes of each class are spent looking on in total silence as she unabashedly snorts to herself. This professor has discipline and credentials that your soggy, hungover ass can only dream of, but you still just can't shake the desire to give her a hug and shield her from this cold, cruel world. There's a good chance that this professor bicycles to school, eats a brown-bagged lunch in public and excitedly shows off pictures of their spouse and/or children to the world, if only to confirm that these people are, in fact, real and not a figment of the professor's imagination. 

What other kinds of professors did you run into in university? Leave it in the comments.

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