To foster a warmer relationship between students and professors this semester, faculty were encouraged to spend a few minutes on the first day of class discussing themselves, their work and their current research interests. While this is a step in the right direction and will help expose students to research opportunities, it does not eradicate an issue that has plagued Tech for years: poor communication between students and faculty. In this year’s Princeton Review, Tech was rated as having the “third least approachable” professors in the country.
A major contributor to this is Tech’s high student to faculty ratio, which sits at 22:1. Obviously, students won’t be able to build a strong relationship with a professor in a class with over a hundred students, other options need to be explored. During these financially tight times, it is unlikely that enough new faculty can be hired to correct this, so departments should explore new ways of using TA’s to give students support in large classes.
Student organizations like the SGA Academic Affairs Board and Student Advisory Boards in the various colleges also can improve this by realizing that working with faculty, particularly the Faculty Senate, will often result in unenforceable, weak resolutions, as the faculty will, by default, resist any changes that require more work of them. Instead, they should focus on working with upper administration, particularly on reporting consistent issues with professors and courses, and analyzing course feedback.
However, blame does not lie solely with the faculty. Students must realize that it is up to them to make contact with faculty. Professors are sometimes more concerned with their research than their classes, and are often jaded from years of students trying to game the system, so it is up to the student to make it clear that they are earnest in their studies, thereby ensuring they are not dismissed or ignored.