I feared that I would come to school and be taught by highbrow thinkers fulfilling the menial part of their job, for the most part at least. Professors would do their best to put up with my ignorance despite their expertise, and I’d do my best to stay just under the radar. I know that sounds pretty pessimistic. Maybe I’ve seen too many coming of age in college movies. Anywhere you might look for school you’re hammered with a message that should completely cancel any such fear. I was skeptical, though. It goes without saying, as I begin my second year at Tufts, that my experience with my professors has been wonderful and completely opposite my worries.
As such, I haven’t spent much time thinking about it since those first self-conscious weeks of my freshman year. But if you're in the college-finding process, who knows? You may think as I did. Often – and I say often because I often need that simple concept re-explained or that homework clarification – I’m reminded just how wrong I was. I could rattle off too many examples for a blog, but I’ll limit myself to one of the most recent. Fair warning: there's a chance it'll read like a complete nonstory to you. But before I came here, I wasn’t expecting these simple expressions of goodwill. I’ve included Steve Martin down there to illustrate the basic professorial response to simple questions I predicted.
I’m in a huge intro class for a subject that is completely foreign to me. Not terribly surprisingly, I had an issue with the first homework. Stumped, I visited my professor’s office hours, and I managed to present my lack of understanding in such a way that I made the problem unsolvable. A bit puzzled, my professor assured me he’d get back to me when he had more time to figure it out. Sure enough, his email that night confirmed what I should have expected: a simple solution convoluted by my fixation on the detail that confused me. A little embarrassed, I thanked him and apologized for taking up so much of his time. He reassured me that he’s always happy to help. That sort of thing means a great deal to me. It’s nice to feel at ease in your learning environment. I know that not every professor will worry about whether or not you feel good about yourself, and I know that not everyone is worried by professors who don’t. But if you find you find yourself at Tufts, I'd certainly say that you should anticipate kindness.