Student Life

The Best Ways to Get to Know Your Professor

Elizabeth Hoyt

August 07, 2016

The Best Ways to Get to Know Your Professor
It’s really in a student’s best interest to get to know their professors as much as possible, because one never knows what it can lead to!
Building valuable relationships with your professors is vital. They are important resources, can provide a wealth of information regarding your college career and your career path. Additionally, strong bonds with professors can lead to mentorship, letters of recommendation and, sometimes, job opportunities. It’s really in a student’s best interest to get to know their professors as much as possible, because one never knows what it can lead to!
The following are some tips that will help you build a strong relationship with your professor:
Arrive on Time
Starting out your relationship on a good note, with a good impression, is important. Arrive to class on time, if not early.
Professors often interpret a late arrival as rude or disrespectful – both character traits that you don’t want to be associated with.
Never Leave Early
Similar to arriving late, leaving early can reflect poorly on you. You may have a completely valid reason for leaving early, but it comes across to the professor that you don’t care or are bored with their class.
You do not want a professor to think you couldn't bother to take out the time to sit through a full class period. If you do need to leave early for any reason, it’s a good idea to let your professor know before class. Giving them a heads up shows respect, that you have a legitimate reason to leave and does not leave them wondering.
Turn Technology Off
Imagine staring at a room full of students with their heads down, smiling at their laps. That's what your professors are used to seeing. Your smartphone, tablet and laptop are designed to keep your attention and they're most likely just going to stop you from listening in class. If you turn technology off, listen and take notes in class, your face will be the one that stands out to your professor among the sea of tech-addicts.
Sit in the Front
When you sit in the front, you’re more likely to pay attention and participate in class discussions. Did you ever notice that the sleepers and internet surfers are always in the back? There’s a good reason for that. It's so easy to get distracted when you're not very visible (or so you think) and won't be held accountable for your actions. Show your professor that you are present, paying attention and are willing to contribute. They will appreciate it more than you know!
Contributing to class discussion shows that you want to learn the material and that you are thinking about the topic at hand. Those who participate are also recognized by professors as being present, both in mind and body. Remember, making a comment isn't the only way to participate – asking thoughtful questions counts also.
Engage in Conversation After Class
At the beginning of each semester, introduce yourself to your professors after each class. Follow-up with noting interesting points from the lecture and discuss it further after class discussion. Showing that you’re still thinking about the discussion, rather than racing out the door, demonstrates that you’ve paid attention during the lecture and value what you’re learning.
Utilize Office Hours
Office hours are widely ignored by most students (except, perhaps, right before an exam day). Believe it or not, professors actually enjoy when students come to their office hours. It’s a great way to further class discussion, get advice on your grades, study practices and, ultimately, is a key step in building a personal relationship with your professor. You don’t only have to discuss your upcoming exam. Pick your professor’s brain on why they chose the field they’re in, what they like and dislike about it and ask for any career advice. Doing so shows you value his or her opinions and experiences and will likely lead to more personal discussions that will help you in many ways – including the possibility of recommendation letters, valuable insights and perspectives and, perhaps even, career opportunities.

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