What are some common misconceptions about university professors?Some of the answers given below are good, and the picture is very amusing and not far from the truth.
I'm lucky to be a professor. I have an enjoyable job, I get to research things which interest me, and I get to hopefully make a difference for students. It is very difficult to get a professor's job, but I think more and more people know this, and so I'll list some things which probably most people aren't aware of.
1. Much of our time is spent not teaching. A FT professor might teach anywhere from 6-15 hours a week, which isn't much on paper, but doesn't include faculty meetings, administrative work, meetings with students, preparation, grading, and research. Some attend conferences.
2. For most it's paid more poorly than you might think. A very, very good professor at the top might indeed make $200K in the US, but this is a small elite. Most senior profs are somewhere between 100-150K. Junior ones are probably about 60-100K. From there we get into the vast and growing army of adjuncts, who might make from $50K a year down to $20K. Hour for hour, there are many professors not making much more than the people working at the campus Taco Bell. More use food banks than you would ever dream.
3. We are not all communist atheists. In the humanities and particularly English there is a stereotype that we are all out to corrupt our students into our radical ideologies. I am a Christian, and while many of my professors weren't, I've never had a professor mock or insult my beliefs. As for me making my students follow my subversive lefty politics-- I wish. I can't get them to stop texting in class, let alone change their political views.
4. The old joke about English profs until the 70's is that we were all absent-minded nerds; now it is that we are all banging our students. I've seen examples of both, mind you; but overall neither image is true. A prof with no people skills is going to have a hard going nowadays, and on most campuses, sleeping with students will get you disciplined or fired.