How stressful is it to be an assistant professor?
Remember there are three parts of a faculty job: Teaching, Research, and University Service. Stress level really depends on the University. For example if you are at a school that primarily values teaching, it is much easier to control your situation. If you put a great deal of thought into your class design and spend time with your students, you are very likely to be rewarded professionally. Research wise, you can probably do enough writing in the summer to get by. Conference papers are usually acceptable forms of publication. It is also important to put effort into getting along with people, especially senior faculty and administration. You are expected to be seen in your office and on campus.Being an Assistant professor at a research oriented university is very exciting and you have a wider range of directions you can take your career. However you have much less control, your grant applications can get rejected, your journal articles are more likely to get turned down since you have to publish in prestigious journals. For example at my current school publishing a conference paper does not count for anything. Also you are never done, while you are in the tenure chase you always have something to work on. Your success will be measured very clinically: how much money in grants you have brought in, how many books you have published (with consideration of what publisher published them) and how much your work is cited. You don't really work that closely with your students, your TA handles much of it. This is a stress reliever for some people. Generally you are working closely with a couple of graduate students. Research faculty often spend very little time in their office.
Would my old college professor be happy if I made a surprise visit or would he think it's weird that I wanted to see him again?
For the most part, they’d be delighted. In general, any student who thinks a professor would want to see them is usually one the professor would at least not mind seeing.Of course, if you catch them on a particularly busy day, they may not have much time. So schedule ahead as much as possible.A suggestion: remind them of who you are. You have probably only had ~20 professors in your life, and that number is pretty much fixed. They may have had hundreds of students from your year, and hundreds more from every other year they’ve been a professor. So a gentle reminder never hurts. Don’t force them to have to Google you. (-:
Are Stanford professors happy people?
I think in general yes. Afterall, most of us could easily go anywhere else if we were unhappy with Stanford.That does not mean we never have arguments with some bureaucrats, foolish regulations, often associated with government research funding, etc. .And being at Stanford does not solve personal problems. A major one I see are that our children get frustrated by trying to meet high expectations all around. Housing costs are high, but the University tries to help, and traffic to get out can be horrendous
What is it like to study Computer Science at IIT?
I graduated 20 years ago, with a CSE degree from an IIT.The OP probably wants to know what its like now, not what it was 20 years ago, but I have been hiring IIT-CS grads for a long time, so perhaps this answer will provide a longer-term perspective.1. Even within the set of highly intelligent CS students, there is again another normal curve of intelligence within the group. Most of your classmates will be around the mean (a very high mean), but there will be a couple who will be just clearly a couple of standard deviations beyond the norm.. The good news is that most CS students, are good judges of intelligence, and quickly make peace with themselves about their relative status, and optimize their stay for other aspects.2. Even though everyone has a fairly good idea of their relative "max" abilities, its still requires a LOT of work to maintain that position. I took one semester just a little bit easier, in order to deal with a family health issue, and I tumbled significantly down the ranks. Not that it mattered much in the long run.3. CS education in IITs was (is?) shockingly poor preparation for the real world. It is highly biased towards theory (even "systems" courses). There was a certain unstated disdain amongst the professors and amongst the students towards "programming". 4. There are a few brilliant oddballs in each CS class, who are clearly only doing CS because it was the choice society expected of them. Thankfully, some of them switch back into other areas they love after graduation. Others sadly muddle through life as misfits. This is a sad byproduct of the way the IITs require premature choice of discipline, and the fact that IITs are engineering only schools. The Western model of schools with a broad choice of disciplines is soo much better.5. Surprisingly, you need not worry about any of your IIT-CS classmates becoming super rich and leaving you very envious. They'll become great professors, publish good papers, or they'll end up as distinguished architects at Microsoft or Google. They are unlikely to be the ones starting companies and becoming super-rich. For that, look for students (from other departments) that are busy building leadership skills to go with their smarts. The CS students will be working too hard on their coursework to devote time for such frivolities.
Which is better as a career: assistant professor or software professional?
I think you need to do some serious thinking before abruptly jumping to a conclusion. Since, you are thinking about this, you are not super happy with your current work. But there is no guarantee that you will love your assistant professor job. Teaching looks like fun. But there are other burden that comes with teaching. Making Lecture notes, Checking copies, Exam preparation, Petty politics, Administration works etc. Two of my friends are assistant professors at Universities. They like the teaching part very much but they don't like the other burdens at all. I would advice you to - create a blog. Write about the topics of the subjects that you liked very much as a student. Same as making lecture notes. Check If you feel the Adrenaline rush while doing this ? May be for 1st two weeks you will enjoy this but it may not excite you after that. Then you would know if you are meant for this job or not. I am actually doing this. You can check my blog Kaushik Baruah blog posts. I am writing Lecture notes about some of the computer science subjects I really liked and checking whether I am enjoying this or not. So far, I am enjoying every bit of it. But don't know what will happen say after 2 months. Like they say - Every distant Mountain looks very beautiful. But you feel the pain when you actually try to climb it. Therefore, experience it before coming to a conclusion.