Making the transition from high school to college can be a little daunting—especially when you think about the classroom, where much will be expected of you. Thankfully, the professors standing in front of your classes aren’t just talking heads—they’re ready to help you succeed, if you’re willing to ask. Here, two of Calvin’s most respected (and likeable!) professors talk about their roles both in and out of the classroom.
WHAT SETS CALVIN PROFS APART?
HOLBERG: I think we try—as much as we can—to know the “whole” student, not just the academic part. Working with students is part of our calling, and so we want students to flourish.That doesn’t mean our classes are easy—just that we want to help students live fully into their calling, too. I like that we are part of an academic community that believes we learn from each other. I expect my students will teach me something every semester.
CORCORAN: Calvin professors are accessible. They’re accessible both in their offices, and outside their offices in organized professor-student activities, like game nights, movie nights, etc.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE ROLE OF PROFESSOR?
CORCORAN: For me, it’s a passion, a calling, a Christian vocation. I want my teaching to serve as an inspiration to students to discover their own passions and callings.
HOLBERG: Our faculty handbook says “teaching is job #1,” and I take that very seriously. Unlike [professors from] some institutions, Calvin professors also do advising—helping to pick out courses, giving advice about careers, etc. But more than that, it’s hosting students for dinner, having social events through my department, or attending performances or sporting events that my students are involved in.
WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR STUDENTS?
HOLBERG: Come to class and engage with what we’re studying. Try hard. Participate. Have some ideas about the texts we are reading, even if they are provisional—and maybe even off-base.Take advantage of the privilege of getting to have four years to learn.
HOW DO YOU HELP STUDENTS MANAGE THESE EXPECTATIONS?
CORCORAN: I try to create an in-class environment of mutual respect, focus, attentive listening, wonder and acceptance. I try to help them see that I am not that different from them. I’m older, but I’m imperfect, too. I can be distracted, too. But I’m passionate and eager to learn.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS?
CORCORAN: I would tell first-year students the following: Go to class. Do the work. Get involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Manage your time wisely. Remember the primary reason you are here: to receive the gift that is a Calvin liberal arts education. Exercise. I’m serious. It will keep you healthy and stave off the blues that many fresh-people experience. Get sufficient sleep.