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Telling your professors what your major is

  1. Jul 25, 2011 #1
    Telling your professors what your major is....

    I think this is definitely a lower level topic, but a couple of days ago one of my professors asked me what my major is and when I told her...she knit her eyebrows and gave me a look of...scorn I guess. I am not sure really, but it was not a good reaction. I was a little surprised and tried to probe her as to why she reacted like that, and she clammed up. I make very good grades and she regularly tells me I did a good job. I talk to her but I do not hang around after class to talk to her like some of my fellow nerd friends.

    Anyways before this turns into a ramble, have you ever had an experience like this? How did you react? Did you ever uncover why your teacher reacted this way?

    Sorry if this topic is a bit odd but I'm just confused about it lol
     
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  3. Jul 25, 2011 #2

    jtbell

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    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    What subject is that professor in?
     
  4. Jul 25, 2011 #3

    bcrowell

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    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I'm a community college prof, and one thing I can say is that because I have high standards, sometimes I do underestimate students. I've had students I didn't think were that great who transferred to Harvard or Stanford, or who got super high scores in math competitions. Students grow and change, and their teachers only see them through a keyhole. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Your grades are how your profs ultimately tell you their best-calibrated opinions of you.
     
  5. Jul 25, 2011 #4

    Pyrrhus

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    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I once was taking a graduate course on a measure theoretic class on probability and statistical theory. I remember I was arguing with the professor with regards to an alternate form to do a proof which was much shorter. I remember he asked whether I was in math. I told him no, and that I am in Econ. He then replied the longer proof is better for you. It is more rigorous (as in less assumptions as my suggestion required the use of the gamma function properties). I didn't really get his point... The professor is a Mathematics Professor in the Department of Statistics.
     
  6. Jul 25, 2011 #5
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I was once at a test review session that my physics professor was running. I sat in the front and was doing well. Afterwards she asked me what my major was. I told her it WAS physics but that I had just switched to math. Maybe I should have just told her math. Talk about awkward. She seemed disappointed and asked me why. I told her I wanted to do actuarial science, and she understood. I was just plain honest, didn't try to hide anything. She was the department chair of physics and astronomy, so I understand why she was curious and then disappointed. I ended up switching my major back to physics by the end of the semester, because I got really interested in some subjects from her class. I told her so and she was happy again.
     
  7. Jul 25, 2011 #6
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I took some upper div general ed requirements that were pretty much major reqs for some humanities majors (gender and women studies, near eastern studies, etc.). I did really well in the classes, getting to know the professor and TAs so I could do well on the essays.

    But one day, my GWS professor asked what major I was, and before I said anything my dumb friend, who was right beside me at the time, told her it was Math. And her expression immediately changed. It could just be me, but once my professor knew I was only in her class as a general ed, I'm pretty sure she didn't like me anymore (or as much, anyways).
     
  8. Jul 25, 2011 #7
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I had a similar experience with my English professor. We had to make an 'about me' page on wikipedia and I described my major, interests, ambitions to become a physicist, skills, etc. She described it as 'wonderfully irreverent' and made snide remarks about it in class. ratemyprofessors.com informed me she liked to make enemies so I decided to completely ignore the issue. She got bored of it eventually and left me alone. Most immature professor I have ever had.
     
  9. Jul 25, 2011 #8

    Pengwuino

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    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I've never had a professor give me a negative response to being a physics major. Personally I don't care what they think. The positive responses have always been kinda fun. I had a geology prof who was pretty awesome. He was from australia and thought physics was great. The course was a general ed "science or nonsense" so I kinda became the "So, tell me if your classmates opinion on this topic is ******** or not" and boom, pwned other stupids.

    I mean students.
     
  10. Jul 25, 2011 #9

    Choppy

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    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    It sounds like people are reading way too much into this kind of question. "What is your major?" is a very common small-talk question in universities and something professors may ask without having any particular agenda.
     
  11. Jul 25, 2011 #10
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    ^ We are of course taking only specific examples. We're not generalizing it to a frequent occurrence for all professors. We're just noting that some do take note of it.
     
  12. Jul 26, 2011 #11
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I've never had a bad response when I told people my major was physics. In fact, most responses are along the lines of, 'Wow, you must be a genius!'
     
  13. Jul 26, 2011 #12
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    My physics professor was upset that I was a physics major because I put shame to all the physics major out there....
     
  14. Jul 26, 2011 #13
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    This does not mean that your professor would not recognize your talents. It could also refer to his/her opinion on the relevance of physics vs. other majors.
    My mathematics professor was once upset that I was majoring in physics (and not in mathematics). He told me this was casting pearls before swine, and he tried to convince me to switch majors several times (unsuccessfully).
     
  15. Jul 26, 2011 #14
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    Sort of.

    Accept that fact that teachers are human, and unless there is some issue that impacts me directly just forget about it.
     
  16. Jul 26, 2011 #15
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I tend to have positive reactions because all my classes are math and my major is math. Funny story though; in calc I my hilarious professor would tend to skip proofs and even fundamental definitions like the derivative in terms of a limit as h goes to zero. He was very disappointed by the lack of basic algebra skills in all his calc I classes through the years so he justified this skipping of stuff by saying "if I teach you this, you will all fail. So, we skip it!" (imagine heavy Greek accent here... I SO wish I had this on video) then he would get very serious and point to me (the only math major in the class) and say, "but you, you need to know."
     
  17. Jul 26, 2011 #16
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    It happens, lots of teachers may look down on students for various reasons. Reminds of a situation where a friend of mine was a physics major when he started college but switched to the electrical engineering department; some professors just stopped talking to him all together. The physicists at my school tend to have a low opinion of engineers.
     
  18. Jul 26, 2011 #17
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    I had two physics professors vehemently insult my choice to pursue graduate studies in medical physics as opposed to regular (for lack of a better term) physics. They were beside themselves that I would regret my decision and assured me that they were doing me a favor by voicing their negative opinions so strongly.

    Thankfully I didn't listen to them.
     
  19. Jul 26, 2011 #18
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    Chemistry
    Thanks Ben :) very helpful.
    Me either...seems a little contradictory to me--but then I have only read about gamma function properties and have not had classes with proofs involving them, so maybe my understanding of what you are saying is incorrect.
    lol. Thanks Stengah. Interestingly I first decided to double major in chemistry and physics/astrophysics. Then I decided just to concentrate on physics/astrophysics and take more physics and math classes--and now I am leaning toward double majoring in physics/astrophysics and materials chemistry. This prof is the department chair of chemistry at my school.
    Yes I was thinking this is something one is more likely to encounter with professors whose classes are gen ed or are not the core classes for one's major. Thanks Anonymous217 :)
    Reminds me of my ultra disorganised English II prof :rolleyes: Thanks for your comments Fizex.
     
  20. Jul 26, 2011 #19
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    Yes this is the case--it is definitely not a frequent occurrence. This is my first encounter with it.
    lol yes I get that too, but mostly from people who are majoring in something else or non-math or science staff.
    LOL
    Thanks elkement. I was also wondering if she had a bad opinion on physics/astrophysics.
    thanks twofish-quant--good advice :)
    LOL very cool :)
    I wonder why? Really odd.
    Thanks so much EricVT. I gather that this occurs more often than I thought it did for a variety of reasons.

    I appreciate everyone's response :)
     
  21. Jul 26, 2011 #20
    Re: Telling your professors what your major is....

    No video in the world could possibly do justice to the mental image I have of this. hahahaha

    On topic: Hmm. I told my calc III prof that I was an engineering student. Every time he'd discuss a proof or make us do one, he'd talk about 'engineering proofs' while holding his nose closed in order to make it sound comical. Engineering proofs being insufficiently rigorous, but 'they made sense'. He was a great prof though, and I learned a lot from him. I definitely want to have the mathematical rigor despite being an engineering student....
     
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