What it takes to become a professor



Photo by Alexis Meacheam

Natalie Rogers is a writing TA at the University of Denver, who is well on her way to becoming a writing professor. Previously, she was a high school teacher, which is what originally got her interested in being a professor.

“I began teaching a year after I graduated with my BA in English from Reed College. I was asked to teach at my old high school and instantly fell in love with the job,” said Rogers.

Rogers has been in the teaching field for ten years. She has a BA in English Literature, an MFA in creative writing and is currently working on her PhD in English Literature. In order to be a creative writing professor, it is usually required to receive an MFA in Creative Writing. Another important aspect that is required for the professional and experiential requirements of becoming a professor is needing to have published at least one book according to Rogers. Rogers’ fictional work has been published online on Juked, Narrative, New Orleans Review, and Specter Magazine.

A major problem that is faced with entering the professor profession would be the amount of money it costs to enter the field. This is due to the amount of higher education schooling that is required.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a four-year private institution, like the University of Denver, cost an average of 36, 589 dollars in the year span of 2013 to 2014. Add on top of that the cost of graduate school, which was 23, 266 dollars for private institutions in the year span of 2014 to 2015. On average, becoming a professor would cost an individual at least 59, 855 dollars.

Rogers provides some advice for those who are seeking to join this profession and are concerned about paying for the educational requirements.

“Attend graduate programs that provide full funding. Do not go into debt to become a professor,” Rogers urged.

At the University of Denver, DU, Rogers receives financial help as she moves forward in her second year as a PhD candidate.

“I am a TA, so I receive a modest stipend. They also pay for my tuition. I make a lot less than full professors. I make 17,000 dollars a year,” Rogers said.

It is beneficial to know the starting point of a profession in the higher education field because, as Rogers, explained, it is not an easy journey.

“It’s going to be tough. If you want to do this, you must be passionate, because there will be a long road ahead,” Rogers said.

Along with this, Rogers discussed the way in which you should get into this particular career field. Aside from experiential and education requirements, Rogers offers new insight into what matters when becoming an educator.

“You need to love literature and teaching. You need to love working with young people. These are the only prerequisites that matter,” Rogers stated.

While some educators may not agree with this notion, Rogers talked about how this mentality has stuck around with her since she first began teaching at her old highschool. Her most memorable project she worked on was at that very first job.

“I always remember the first class I taught when I was 23. The ninth graders were always trying to get out of class discussion, so they would make up stories about their personal lives, about getting drunk and going to parties, to elicit my concern. I did care about them a lot, so I would spend the rest of the class talking to them about their lives. We didn’t always stay on track, but they knew that I cared. Maybe that mattered more than the curriculum, but most teachers would probably not agree with that,” Rogers discussed.

Two important sections of being informed on before becoming a professor are the amount of hours of work per week and what a typical day consists of. For Rogers, there are no set hours, but she will typically spend 3-4 hours preparing for each of her classes, but depending on what the class consists of she can spend a lot more time preparing. As Rogers is also a graduate student, her typical day is slightly different than most professors, but relatable for those who are beginning to enter the career field.

“I prepare for teaching and read for my other classes on a typical day,” Rogers said.

As the job field becomes more competitive, Rogers offers some advice to those who wish to differentiate themselves from their peers and outlines important skills that are needed.

“Imagination, passion for teaching, creativity, the desire and abillity to innovate, and introspection are all important skills workers must have,” Rogers detailed


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