Do you think that professors should care more about student performance/success?

I don’t mean to be rude by asking this, but I just wanted to get some insight on this controversial topic:

Even though every professor is different, some of them go above and beyond when it comes to helping out their students, while others are only focused on their paycheck. It’s the cold hard truth that isn’t easy to talk about.

The official definition of a teacher/professor is: a person who helps their students acquire knowledge, competence, or virtue.

Even though it’s the student’s responsibility to improve as they learn more and more, the person teaching is supposed to be there for them whenever they need help, without helping too much, rather than only focusing on getting through the semester.

On an extra note, class size is another factor. Smaller classes with 20 students or less may be easier for professors to handle (one on one assistance) when compared to larger classes of 50-100+ students.

I agree and disagree.
I dont need to respond to students emails or questions outside of business hours. I am there to provide the information and give guidance on how to learn and hopefully encourage critical thinking. A student can choose not to do those things and that isn’t the fault of the professor.

1 Like

My experience both as a student and as a parent, is that most professors do a great job. Like in any profession, there are always some that are sub par but that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

My D goes to a large flagship. No matter what the class size, professors always had office hours and were accessible.


Curious why a prof wouldn’t respond to a student emails or questions outside of business hours (I assume 9-5) ? Not looking to debate or judge, just curious.

At many schools, classes are in fact outside of business hours. Do you offer regular office hours and/or have a policy to respond to students emails/questions in 24 hours?

1 Like

If my class was in the evening, perhaps I would reply in the evening. My classes are during the day. Yes there are office hours. I understand that many students might do work later at night and email questions then. However, I have a personal life and my own family and I might not respond to the question until the next day. I have found students have this increasing need and expectation for an immediate response and I believe that is unrealistic and unfair. Also, non urgent questions have a 2 business day response time. I triage my emails and respond appropriately.


Also, the number of times professors have to email “Per the syllabus…” or “Per the instructions…” or “Per the rubric…” or “Per the written announcement…” is much too high.
Now if its a question about content or misunderstanding a concept, I think most professors are happy to help out. But students need to read the required readings and watch the required videos. They need to show up in class and engage in discussions. Too many students want to be passive learners and that doesnt work.
As for being focused on my paycheck, I make quite a bit less than I could working outside of academia. Im not teaching for the money.


I believe RTFS (read the ____ syllabus) is the acronym ; )



I can assure you this is not even remotely the case at many/most major US research universities, where professor’s priorities (in order of importance) are:

a) Publish
b) Publish
c) Publish
d) employ/tolerate/teach grad students to the extent that it aids in a,b,c
e) teach undergrad courses.

LIke any other relationships, the relationship between a student and a professor is mutual. If you do your part (being courteous, considerate, flexible, etc.), more likely than not, the same will be reciprocated. On the other hand, if you believe the other side has an obligation to you, you’ll likely regret the relationship.

That may be true for an elementary/middle/HS teacher and an “Instructor” at a college, but it’s nowhere close to the definition of the responsibilities of a college professor.

What is the source of this “official” definition of a Professor?

Here’s one for a real job

Professors’ responsibilities at Xxx are typically divided between teaching, research, and service.

The teaching responsibilities are the most visible: learning the material (this can take years, especially for some upper level courses), keeping up to date with current advances in both research and pedagogy, choosing an appropriate textbook, preparing lectures, supervising teaching assistants, grading, etc.

Research activities involve solving problems that were previously unsolved. These activities are more difficult to describe. Most professors have one or more areas in which they are experts. Part of the job is to keep up with current research activities in their areas of expertise. This includes reading journal articles, attending conferences, and staying in touch with other researchers in their field. It is sometimes as hard - and as important - to find the right questions to ask as it is to answer them. Problems that have been solved are written up in the form of an article and submitted to an academic journal for publication. The editors of the journal send the submission to experts (referees) for their opinion about whether the article deserves to be published. If published, the authors get a pat on the back.

Service activities involve serving on various committees at the Department (e.g., the undergraduate program committee which evaluates the courses we require for majors and minors), College, Campus (e.g., the Liberal Education Committee, which evaluates the courses students must take in order to gain sufficient “breadth” in their education), and the Xxx system. They also perform service activities to the “academic community,” such as organizing conferences, editing and refereeing for journals,

1 Like

I think you’re misunderstanding what the job of a university professor entails. Their job description doesn’t require them to be on call 24/7 for “one on one” tutoring sessions. Do you make yourself available to your employer 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for no extra pay? I’m certain that you don’t.

What do you mean by faculty going “above and beyond” to help students? Above and beyond what? Faculty contracts require professors to teach a certain number of credits per semester. They’re generally required to have a minimum number of office hours and respond to student emails in a timely fashion. Students who need help have to go to office hours. Those that need additional help can go to the TA’s, college tutoring center, or the office of student services, or they can join a study group and/or hire a private tutor. College faculty don’t have time to be private tutors for 20-100+ students outside of office hours even if their departments permitted it. They’d never have time for anything else.

If you need more help with your upper level courses than you’re getting, you may want to reach out to your student services office. They can connect you with resources.


At my son’s large flagship he has emailed and been contacted at many different times including Sundays. It seems that most of the professors are willing to go beyond what is required. Like they actually care… Crazy. Huh… I think it might have to do with the schools culture. Sure there are always professors that are less then. No one expects to be contacted on a Sunday… But maybe he just got lucky…


Im not saying I wont reply on a Sunday if I happen to be checking email and theres something I think needs to be responded to. However, OP was implying that professors must reply whenever the student emails them. I do a ton of work at home but to infer that I cant ever be off the clock if I want to be a good professor is a poor assumption.

1 Like

Hi, I was just making a general statement. Not pointed at you. But even my daughters small lack professors got back quickly. I am sure you have a system that works for you. Plus I am sure it depends on how many requests /emails you get. I am the type that has to answer right away. Good thing I am not a professor since I would not get anything else done… Lol…


Im very fortunate that my class sizes are pretty small and I try to set the students up for success each week and answer most of their questions before they even answer them (as Ive btdt with these courses and learn myself each semester). But yes, I have 2 busy teens at home, a husband, and my own grad school courses I am taking. I need to maintain some work/home life separation.

Let me correct that:

a) Apply for grants
b) Apply for more grants
c) keep on applying for grants
d) Publish
d) employ/tolerate/teach grad students to the extent that it aids in a-d
e) teach undergrad courses.

Fact is, at all research universities and many “directionals” (which are suffering from mission creep) assistant professors don’t get tenure for being the best instructor in the University - it is almost entirely based on grant amounts, publication numbers and number of graduate students. So long as they have taught the courses they were told to teach, been in the classroom and at office, and not messed up too badly in class, that’s enough for the teaching part of their tenure portfolio. Same thing for promotion to full professor - it’s their reputation in the field, not as an instructor.

Professors at research universities are hired at 45% research, 45% teaching, and 10% service. Tenure is evaluated 80% research, 15% service, and 5% teaching.

Many universities and colleges also rely on contingent labor or temporary hires for teaching - adjuncts, lecturers, and grad students. In many programs, like English or Sociology, at most universities or colleges, a students will take their first course with a TT or tenured faculty only in their Junior year.

Professors, as a rule, care deeply about their students’ success. However, unless they are in a liberal arts college or in a community college, their own success at the college relies far more on their achievements in their other duties than it does in the success of their students.


The two day time response is very interesting. I don’t know of many fields in the US where 24 hours isn’t the norm. In some industries the expectations are far shorter.
Not trying to argue but I do think that 2 days is a really long time for anything. Is this a written policy of the college? If so or it’s one the syllabus then fine. If not, I’d guess many student age kids think 2 days is a lifetime.

There is no college email requirement where I work. I triage my emails and respond accordingly. My students havent complained about my response time ever.

Students still in position to choose a college may want to consider those known for their classroom experience:

1 Like

I think that the professors that I know do care a lot about the success of their students.

However, they also have been teaching long enough to see students who care, work hard and are good at the subject; other students who care, work hard, and are not good at the professor’s subject (but might be good at other subjects); as well as other students who do not work very hard. This last group I do not think that the professors have much sympathy for.

Also of course as OP said, every professor is indeed different.

Some professors might change over time. My favorite professor when I was in graduate school moved to a different university. Years later I looked them up and saw some not very good reviews. It was sad, but looked as if the professor might have gotten burned out over many decades of teaching (I was in graduate school quite a while ago). I suppose that this must happen.

My one daughter who is still in university has talked a bit about some professors who are excellent and some professors who are not. I suppose that this would be true of people in pretty much every possible job. There also seems to be some variation in terms of how well professors have adopted to on-line teaching and also to on-line exams.

I do wonder about whether a student on average will experience better professors at what in the US we would call a Liberal Arts College, or what in Canada is called a small primarily undergraduate university.