26 January 2009

Teacher-Student Interactions

I am a first-year graduate student at the same institution that awarded me my undergraduate degree, which means that I've experienced interactions with the same professors as an undergraduate and a graduate student. On the whole, it seems that graduate students get a big jump in respect level, just for pursuing an advanced degree. It's not that I was a nameless, faceless undergraduate, either; in my small department, I could hold friendly, often topical chats with each of the professors, and I was an engaged member of many of their classes. Regardless, once I received keys to the department lounge, I was seen as a member of the team, rather than a pesky kid.

It's not that all of the professors treated me as though I was a nuisance, but the differences are striking. Suddenly, professors clam up less when I enter the room; they look less confused when they see me around the department; they're more willing to engage in small talk or offer suggestions on research-y things.

It's not just the professors--administrative staff seem to think I'm worth their time now. Where before, I wasn't addressed at all by the senior admin, as soon as she learned that I was a graduate student, we started having friendly chats about her granddaughter. It was, quite honestly, the day I got my keys to the department lounge (obviously a momentous occasion for me) that she first introduced herself, even though she'd seen me in her office many times before.

I appreciate the respect afforded by the title "graduate student," but I wish my potential could have been recognized as an undergraduate (by everyone except my advisor, who already recognized it), which would have given me more time to perform under increased expectations. I imagine I would have benefited from the sense of colleagueship I now feel. It doesn't seem like I'm so different from eight months ago when I was an undergraduate, but I'm being held to much higher standards now.

No comments:

Post a Comment