Talking to your professors can be intimidating. But professors really aren’t scary people. They teach because they love their subject and they want to share that passion with their students. Getting to know your professors is a really good idea.
A good relationship with your professor can mean:
the difference between a higher grade and a lower one, because your professor can give you the benefit of the doubt if you have been working hard in class.
- extra time for a paper or project if you need it
- special opportunities through their department, such as part-time office work or participation in a research project.
- help getting an internship
- excellent, personalized letters of recommendation
Ask questions in class. Say, “Thank you, Dr. Smith” as you leave. Always let your professor know, in person or by email, if you will be absent from a class. Participate! Show that you care and want to do your best.
Visit your professor during office hours at least twice a semester; first, as soon after classes start as you can, and then again before your midterm exam.
Here are some tips for making the most of the first visit:
- Read the class syllabus and requirements before you go.
- Write down any questions and bring them with you.
- Make sure you know where the office is, and arrange to arrive on time or a few minutes early.
- Be polite! Introduce yourself and greet your professor with a handshake.
- Ask your prepared questions. Ask if there is anything else you should know to do well. Ask about resources such as study groups, additional reading material or extra credit.
- Take notes.
- Thank the professor, shake hands.
Here are some tips for making the most of other visits:
If you’re doing well in class:
- Talk about the future – ask your professor what class you should take next. Ask about internships and other opportunities.
- If you’re having trouble in class, this is your chance to get back on track:
- Bring your homework or other papers and ask your professor to go over things you got wrong to make sure you understand the correct answers.
- Go over upcoming assignments to make sure you understand what is expected. Ask questions NOW!
- Ask about getting additional help – is there a senior student who might be willing to tutor you? Is there a study group you could join? Are there extra materials you could read or extra problems you could solve?
- Ask about extra credit.
- Arrange to meet with your professor again soon to make sure you’re on track.
Take the time to get to know your professors.
You’ll be very glad you did!