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What do instructors and professors wish students knew?


You’ve graduated high school, the ACT is behind you, and you’ve applied to many different colleges. After countless tours and orientations, you finally decide on the college you want to attend. Now, all you can do is wait for classes to begin. That can be scary and nerve-racking. To help ease your nerves, we asked current Wright State instructors and professors what they wish students knew and we’ve got their answers. Maybe their advice will help you prepare for college.

“What I wish students knew is that faculty are here to help them succeed. Students should make an effort to talk with their faculty about coursework, majors/minors, career options, life in general. Students won’t have time to do this with every one of their professors, and not all of their professors will be equally easy to talk with. But get to know a few of them. In particular, if you find yourself in trouble in a class, talk with your professor, don’t disappear, or think you have to figure it all out on your own. We don’t expect you to know everything. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. We are here to teach you! That means that we are here to help you understand what you are confused about, to help you perfect skills you are struggling with, and answer questions about our subjects. We also want to help you decide what courses to take, and talk to you about what you can do with your majors. Don’t wait until it’s too late!” – Dr. Ava Chamberlain, Professor and Chair, Departments of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics


How deeply I know that, with passion and work, my students can become an elite member of their profession while making the world a better place.” – Dr. Melissa Spirek, Professor, Department of Communication



“Faculty are here for students. Ask for help when you need it. Make use of faculty office hours. If you want to go on for an advanced degree, talk with faculty and graduate students about what that experience and career is like. Ask about summer opportunities (at WSU and elsewhere). There is a lot you can learn that isn’t generally covered in classes.” – Dr. Sarah Tebbens, Associate Professor, Department of Physics


“That, years from now, the thing they’ll regret most about their college years is that they didn’t take greater advantage of every free opportunity (lectures, film screenings, field trips, clubs, etc.) and that they didn’t work harder to cultivate better relationships with professors and peers alike.  Most people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone.  The trick is to realize this fact early and do everything to steer clear of it.  Regret is not avoidable, but its sting can be lessened.” – Dr. Glen H. Cebulash, Chair and Professor, Department of Art and Art History


While still in school, students need to become so skilled at something that someone would be willing to pay them to do it. I wish students would treat their coursework like a full-time job.  That means spending at least 40 hours a week on their studies.  Two hours outside the classroom for every hour in the classroom. I wish students would avail themselves of all of the opportunities they can while in college.  This is a time that they can make social connections that last a lifetime.  They can learn about things that do not relate to their chosen profession but will greatly enrich their lives.” Dr. Audrey McGowin, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry


I wish students knew about “impostor syndrome,” which is the feeling that you are not as intelligent or capable as other WSU students and that your shortcomings will eventually be exposed. Many students feel as though they “got lucky” when they were accepted at WSU, but the truth is that they earned it! Impostor syndrome is very common (even among students who are doing well academically), and I wish students knew that many of their professors have experienced it themselves!” – Dr. Carmen Culotta, Instructor, Department of Psychology


“Expect most of your learning to take place outside of the classroom. One of the biggest changes between k-12 education and higher education is the balance between classwork and homework. Higher education standards model each credit hour as roughly 3 hours of effort per week over the course of a standard term. For most classes, this translates to approximately 2 hours of effort outside the classroom for every 1 hour in the classroom. For a 3-credit hour class, expect to spend 6+ hours of effort outside the class each week. With a 15-credit hour load, expect to spend 30+ hours/week. The classroom sets the big picture, puts the learning in context, and help students to transition from one major concept to the next. However, the majority of the effort and associated learning takes place out of the instructor’s sight. For most courses, the instructor is a guide and coach in the process, and lecture will not be the primary source of the learning experience. (Related note: Plan your course-load, work schedule, and other life commitments with this overall effort expectation in mind!)

Engage fully in student life. Universities offer students more opportunity for new experiences than most people are likely to have at any other stage of life. Most commonly, this is done through student clubs and other organizations or events. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet people who are different than you and learn/teach each other about your passions. Go on a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon with Campus Rec! Learn to play cricket with students of an international association! Write an article for the student newspaper! Watch Japanese film with the Anime club! Learn first-hand about the people and issues of the Rainbow Alliance! There is so much to experience and learn. You may find that many things aren’t your cup of tea, but you will almost certainly be introduced to a few new experiences (and people!) that will enhance your life in ways that you had never previously considered.

Self-advocate. There are many policies and procedures necessary to keep a university humming along. However, general policies do not apply to every specific case. The university has mechanisms in place to make exceptions where appropriate. Does a degree program almost, but not quite, fit the career path that you are preparing for? Talk to the faculty of the program and let them know what you have in mind. With their support, you may be able to replace a portion of the program with something equally challenging but more relevant to your educational goals. Regardless of the problem, talk to the Faculty and Staff. Advocate for your position. I believe that the Faculty and Staff at Wright State are second to none in their focus on student success. An important step in that success, is the student reaching out to the Faculty and Staff to advocate for their specific goal/need. Don’t hesitate to engage and self-advocate. An unknown concern cannot be resolved.” – Dr. Travis Doom, Associate Chair and Professor, Department of Computer Science

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