Opinion: NYU students should appreciate professors more

NYU students are lucky to have dedicated and driven professors. It’s time for us to show we care about them.


(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

NYU students are not nearly as appreciative of their professors as they should be. (Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Molly Koch, Contributing Writer

NYU is one of the most prestigious universities in the country, ranked in the top 25 schools. That’s due to not only its rigorous academic courses, but its driven and determined professors. In 2019, 22 NYU professors made a list of the most influential researchers. Two years later, 24 NYU professors were named the world’s most cited scientists. Sure, professors might assign excessive reading or take what feels like forever to grade our assignments, but NYU students need to recognize just how good we have it. We need to start caring about our professors.

Many students complain about how long some of their professors take to return grades — but they aren’t seeing the full picture. Let’s say you spent two weeks on your paper, and generously assume you didn’t spend an all-nighter in Bobst to do it in one go. Your professor is going to put in the same amount of effort that you did, even if that means taking over two weeks to get back to you. Before you call your mom, annoyed that you don’t know your midterm grade yet, take a step back and recognize your professor’s attention to detail.

If you’re lucky, you get professors who send check-in emails, and who genuinely care about your success, not just on paper. How wonderful is it that your professor sent an email saying, “I wish you a happy and safe Halloween, especially if you are going to the Village Halloween Parade… be careful.” Not only is that a sweet message, but it makes you realize how much your professors care about you, especially outside of their classroom.

On my first day of school, my arts and cultures professor brought in a former student to ease our anxieties about the city and college in general. The student had graduated from NYU several years ago, yet she had created such a strong bond with her professor that she came to visit years later. That connection is what makes NYU’s faculty special.

Some of the best professors you can have are those truly interested about what they’re teaching. My arts and cultures professor teared up while reading Homer’s “Iliad” aloud to us. That’s passion, and it’s inspiring. Our professors are heavily engaged with their material and we need to take after them. Even if you ask one question per class, you’ll be showing you genuinely care about the material too. In addition, being attentive not only assures them you’re doing the assigned reading but shows that their effort isn’t for nothing. Saying a quick thank you as you leave the room shows your professor that you care about them. 

But our professors — especially adjunct professors, who make up more than half of the university’s faculty — are not being paid adequately. The adjunct union, ACT-UAW Local 7902, has been fighting the university at the bargaining table for months, demanding better pay for their time. For every hour of paid time, the union claims, adjuncts work an additional 3.35 hours of unpaid out-of-class time. That includes tasks like one-on-one meetings, answering email questions and grading assignments. They have been working outside hours for free to be able to support students in any way they can — the least we can do is show them we appreciate them.

NYU students are immensely privileged to have these professors who don’t get enough credit for all their dedication. You don’t have to do anything complicated to show them that you care. Say thank you before leaving the classroom or after asking a question by email. Ask about their day, or even go to their office hours.

Whether it’s your graduate student creative writing professor who has just started teaching or your Global Works and Society professor who has been dealing with students for 38 years, tell them that you appreciate them. They deserve it.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].