5 Characteristics Good College Professors Possess



Empathy = the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings

Pity = to feel compassion for; be sorry for; commiserate with


When I train on positive youth development I always stress two things: (1) the difference between empathy and pity, and (2) the need to meet youth and young adults where they are.


Knowledge of a subject doesn’t make someone a good teacher. Empathy is one of five characteristics that college professors should possess in order to help nontraditional college students – adults, parents, first generation, former foster youth, active military, and undocumented immigrants – succeed.

  • Issues faced by nontraditional college students includes:
  • Financial limitations
  • Strained academic backgrounds
  • Poor advocacy skills
  • Parental and child care needs
  • Need for evening or weekend classes
  • Inability to meet with professors during traditional work hours
  • Professors who do not fully understand their personal experiences


5 Characteristics Good College Professors Possess
1. Empathy – An ability to place yourself in your student’s shoes and feel what they are feeling and understand their world from their perspective
2. Strength based mindset – Set high expectations for all students and approach initial relationship building based on their assets and talents
3. Adaptability – Be able to leave your comfort zone and adjust to a changing classroom environment
4. Leadership – Establish a clear and inclusive academic vision and provide the information and resources to achieve the vision
5. Accessibility – Not only open and approachable but also available to provide student support at different times and by different methods


As an Organizational Consultant I provide strategies for team building, staff retention, volunteer engagement, partnership development, strategic planning, and program management. I am currently accepting consulting projects in higher education:
• Partnership development and community outreach
• Needs assessments, strategic planning and smart growth
• Launching and improving non-traditional student programs


Contact me to learn how I can help your institution increase student retention and graduation rates.






Nicki Sanders is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.

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