What Are Guest Lecturers?

Find out the benefits of guest speakers at your school.

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Guest lecturers at a college are usually up-and-comers, experts or well-known in their field.

They are invited to the campus by a professor, student organization or department. At many colleges, like at Northeast State Community College for example, the president of the college has to approve the speaker before he is allowed to come.

Sometimes colleges invite famous guest lecturers. This is a great opportunity for networking opportunities.

Why Do Colleges Have Guest Speakers?

Colleges ask guest speakers to the campus for a variety of reasons. A teacher might invite a successful alumnus to come to the classroom and speak with students about how they broke into their field.

Beyond professional practices, your school might invite a guest speaker to give advice on general planning for the future, like when Washington University in St. Louis invited renowned author and speaker Donald Asher to speak at its Junior Jumpstart program designed to help students prepare for life after college.

A guest lecturer may be present during a class or at a special time outside class. The college professor, club, organization or department that invites the speaker decides whether the lecture will be open to students outside the classroom or group. Sometimes a speech may be made available to the public as well.

Guest lecturers need not be limited to campus-based courses. College professors from distance learning and online courses may also incorporate guest speakers into the curriculum. For example, online professors at Penn State may invite a guest speaker to hold a weeklong ongoing chat with students. Although the students do not get the opportunity to hear them speak in person, they still benefit from the interaction.

Guest Lecturers and Your Education

Listening to a guest speaker and participating in ensuing discussions can be an invaluable part of your college education.

Guest lecturers can open up student’s eyes to job prospects they never saw possible before. Johnson College’s Veterinary Technology program invited Erik Hiott, who works at a company that provides animal health-care products, to lecture on class-related topics, but his lecture also taught students that there are other jobs out there for veterinarians besides opening a private practice.

Sometimes colleges invite famous guest lecturers. This is a great opportunity for networking opportunities.

Film and art schools are notorious for bringing in famous guest speakers. Aquinas College invited filmmaker Chris Palmer, who is renowned for wildlife films for IMAX wide screen, for the Disney Channel and for the Animal Planet network to speak to the college’s film students. The New York Film Academy boasts big-name guest speakers like Kevin Spacey, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard.

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