5 Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Your College or University Professors

5 Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Your College or University Professors

5 Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Your College or University Professors

Talking to your college or university professors is daunting. After all, they are highly educated professionals tasked with judging the depth and quality of your work. This kind of scrutiny can make even the most confident person sweat. At the same time, this is exactly why you should do it, and do it often. Maintaining good relationships with your professors demonstrates a strong commitment to your education. This can (and often does!) mean the difference between a failing and a passing grade, or an A and an A+. Having enthusiastic professors in your network to provide strong references and letters of recommendation will also help in your life after school. Here are five tips for building and maintaining relationships with your professors.

1. Do your homework

The first step in creating a relationship with your professor is to learn about them. What are their research interests and goals? What have they done in the past, and what are the working on now? This will give you insight into the kind of person you're addressing in your classwork and assignments. Start with their departmental biography, typically found on your department's web page, and take note of interesting experiences and publications. You can also use Google, Google Scholar, and academic databases to find articles, conference proceedings, and other materials they have written or which reference them.

2. Attend office hours early, often, and curious

Too often, office hours are lonely periods capped off by desperate pleas and lame excuses at the end of the semester. To build a good relationship with your professor, it is crucial to attend offices hours on a regular basis with questions in hand. Make a point of introducing yourself to the professor early on. If you have done your homework, you should have questions about their work, their experiences, and how these relate to the course. During the semester, bring questions you have related to the course material to office hours, and do it often. If you are struggling, you should attend office hours at least once a week. If you are doing well, you should still attend at least once every two weeks. Not only will this help broaden your knowledge and hone your arguments, it may also grant you leniency if you bring your desperate pleas and lame excuses to the final sessions.

3. Actively participate in class

If there is one thing every professor hates, it's that long, awkward period of silence that follows a question they pose in class. Your goal is to make this silence as short and painless as possible. Just as you would for office hours, come to your class having reviewed the relevant material and with questions. Answer these questions during class by actively listening to the discussion and connecting the points raised to your thoughts. If you come to class both prepared and curious, the depth of silence in the room will be greatly reduced, and your professor will be thankful for your role in that.

4. Take advantage of informal events

Most departments provide opportunities for students and faculty to mingle in informal settings, such as pub nights, mini-conferences, public readings, and so on. Not only do these events allow you to take a break from studying and spend time with peers, but they also give you a chance to talk with your professors in a casual setting. Tell your professor about yourself and your goals, and ask questions you would appreciate your professor's perspective on. While having a casual conversation with your professor is a good thing, remember to remain professional--telling them about your weekend drinking adventures will not leave a good impression once it's time to grade your work.

5. Keep in touch after the course is over

If you have created a good relationship with your professor, don't let it fade away. Professors often like to know what their more memorable students are up to once class is over. If they had an effect on what you've done since, let them know! An occasional e-mail or office visit is enough to keep in touch. This is important if you would like to pick their brain about topics in their arena of expertise and stay fresh in their mind when asking for a reference or letter of recommendation. Finally, it will make them feel that they have had a genuine effect on one of their students, which is what most professors consider their goal as teachers.

By following these five simple tips, you will build strong, long-lasting relationships with your professors that will help you during and after your post-secondary career. Remember, you control what you get out of university or college--make one of those things a set of connections which will help you achieve your goals.

Posted on 09/22/2016 Home 0 7151

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