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An open letter to professors teaching first-year students

By Anjali Choudhary, February 4 2021—

Dear Professors,

Please be patient with us. 

This journey so far has been a beautiful storm — a mixture of the highest highs and lowest lows that we have experienced in our extremely inexperienced lives. We have been thrown into this new world of freedom and responsibility, attempting to create a fine balance between the two. In this, we will undoubtedly fail and the extraordinary level of failure will crush us. During these times, we may be especially difficult with unnecessary amounts of questions about grading schemes and extra-credit. Please do not quell our spirits while we are down and desperately trying to keep our starry eyes bright. We can handle harsh reality — we are, in fact, one tough class — but with uncharted territory comes uncharted levels of fragility. 

We apologize for continuously asking you questions that can be answered by looking at the syllabus. We apologize for being unintentionally unprofessional in emails and sending you said emails at ungodly hours. Your frustration is understood, and is often mutual, but I promise that we are trying our best to figure it out, one mistake at a time. We wish we could perfectly follow the unwritten guidebook, and we desperately want to live up to your expectations — but we will learn to accept our imperfections while we improve our foolish ways, and we hope you can too. 

Your support and flexibility do not go unnoticed. A few encouraging words push us to continue trying to succeed, because if you believe in us, maybe we can actually do it. It’s inherent in human nature to crave validation, and in the vulnerable position of a first-year student, this craving can become overpowering — only growing in strength every time we are discouraged. You have been in our position and accomplished everything we hope to achieve. It may not be blatantly obvious, but you have become our greatest role models in the span of a few weeks. 

Your class may challenge our entire belief system, or push us to adopt a new work ethic. No matter the obstacle, we will attempt to rise to the challenge. We will try and do every possible thing to impress you, but when we blunder, we hope you will forgive us. We have worked incredibly hard to get here, so please give us a chance. 

This year, more than ever, we are depending on you to lead us to the light at the end of a seemingly dark and endless tunnel. While we struggle through issues that you may not understand or deem important, we ask that you keep your minds and hearts open to our struggle. 

Learning under you is an honour. Thank you for being patient with us. 


A foolish, starry-eyed and inexperienced first-year student.

Year One is a column about the first-year experience at the University of Calgary.  This column is part of our Voices section.

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