Sunday, July 18, 2010

University Educators as Role Models

Guest Post
By Kate Cunningham

Educators are excellent and natural role models for the students they teach and are often held in fairly high regard. When learning a subject matter they are truly interested in, students can often be drawn to the professor in hopes of finding guidance, advice and support. And because students at the age of young adulthood often look to people of success and power when searching for outside influences, many will strive to emulate their professors in academic, social and professional ways. Generally, there are three types of role models recognized at the university level: academic, mentor and citizen.

Academic role models are the most common role models associated with university level educators and professors. As the name suggests, students will look to their professors as leaders in their academic discipline and admire their scholastic successes. Professors are academicians and scholars that have extensive experience and expertise in their field of study. They also strive to engage their students and to provide them with a thorough education. Research studies have proven that students that are taught by successful, interesting, encouraging and engaging professors often show improvements in their grades and personal growth. Academic role models challenge their students, provide them with stimulating information and foster their love of learning.

A mentoring role model is one who becomes personally interested in their students, their careers and futures. This type of professor is generally active in the field professionally and provides students not only with an environment of educational excellence, but also with moral support, encouragement, advice, and career development in the field. While there can be a fine line between mentoring and inappropriate relationships, many professors can take an appropriate vested interest in students who show great promise in the field. Experts believe that students with university level mentors have increased chances of career development and employment opportunities. This is due to the fact that fostering a relationship with a professional that is already in the field can offer students a great deal of insight, advice and connections. Mentoring role models can individualize their students, taking into account any special circumstance, limitation or talents. They provide career guidance by relating personal experiences in a supportive manner.

The last type of role model is that of citizen. This type of professor takes the education outside of the classroom and is incredibly active in the community. They aim to represent the school and classroom in the outside world and for the betterment of society. Students will look to these types of university level educators as a model for contributing, helpful and professional members of a community. This person could hold a leadership role in local government, volunteer with local organization and non profits or even organize charity events.

While there are several types of role models professors can embody, there is no denying that a professional educator who is engaging, active, compassionate and interested in the futures of their students can make a great impact on the young minds they aim to shape.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Cunningham, who writes on the topics of online university rankings. Kate is a Junior English Major at the University of Texas, and is also freelance part-time as a writer for She welcomes your questions and comments at her email Id: cn.kate1 @

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