Get Inside Your Professor’s Head

How do you get something you want from a family member or friend? Whether you realize it or not, you use what you know about that person’s interests, values, and motivation. You make a deal with your parents by offering something you know they value. You get your roommate to drive you to class by promising to help her with an assignment she’s been dreading. When you understand what makes someone tick, you’re much more likely to get what you want from that person. It’s not manipulation, just a great survival skill.

Well, believe it or not, your professors are people too, and if you want something from them (a bunch of A’s for instance), you’re much more likely to be successful if you understand what makes them tick. If you can understand what motivates them, you’ll be better able to predict their actions and prepare for them. Makes sense, huh?


So what really makes a professor tick? What’s going on behind those wire rim glasses? Let’s start by asking an obvious question. Why would someone become a professor? Among other reasons, they love the subject matter, want to share their expertise, and enjoy the freedom and intellectual atmosphere of a college campus.


Given that, what will a prof lecture on in her class? She’ll lecture on the material she feels is most important and interesting, which likely includes her research specialty. Following from that, what will she test on – her own lecture material or the contents of text that someone else wrote? That’s right, her own lecture material. So what does that mean in terms of preparing for tests? It means that skipping class and simply reading the book is a high risk maneuver. Unless the professor wrote the text (in which case your studying should definitely focus on the text), you should expect tests to draw heavily from her lectures.


So, to get the A you want and achieve college success, get in your professor’s head. If you can better understand what she wants, you’ll be more effective in getting what you want from her.

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