It may not seem important to you now, especially if you’re in your first year of college, but down the line when you’re applying for jobs or, especially, graduate school, you’re going to rely on the relationships you’ve built with your professors. If you build solid connections now, not only will your professors be more likely to write you letters of recommendation, they’ll have more to say in the letters, and they may have connections to help you network.
In the meantime, getting on good terms with your professors can be very beneficial. While they shouldn’t (and legally can’t) favor you when assigning grades just because they like you, they might be more understanding if you ever need an extension on an assignment, or need lecture notes from a class you happened to miss.
Read on for three surefire ways to get yourself in your professors’ good graces:
1. Show Up
Go to class! I can’t stress this enough. You might think your prof doesn’t care, or even notice if you’re there or not, but they do.
I know it may be hard to drag yourself to that 8 am class after a night of partying, but try your best to to show up every day. In smaller classes, it really makes a difference, especially if half the class doesn’t show. In larger classes, you’d be surprised how much the prof notices who’s present. There may be 200 faces in front of her, but she’s going to notice that one smiling face that is consistenty there everyday, as opposed to the dozens of others that come and go.
Sitting in the same seat or area every class doesn’t hurt either; your professor will get used to seeing you there and come to expect it. Just showing up for class is a great way to start off a positive relationship with your professor – it shows you respect them and care enough about the class to show up, and aren’t just there for a credit (even if you really are).
Another key part of showing up, aside from the obvious benefits to your achievements in the class, is getting to know your prof a little better. Listen to what points they stress, and which they skim over. Pay attention to personal anecdotes that tell you a little more about them. This will make it easier to make conversation later.
2. Speak Up
Showing up is easy enough, but if you really want to impress your professor, you need to participate in class as well.
Programs vary as far as how interactive the lectures are. I’m an english major, which means a lot of class discussion about thoughts and feelings on the material we read. Other classes will be a little harder to get involved in, but even asking a well thought-out question shows that you’re engaged, paying attention, and generally desire to understand the material. These are all great traits to show off to your professor.
One caveat: don’t control the classroom with your thoughts and questions. You’re there to listen to the professor lecture, and other students may have something to add to the discussion, too. Keep your contributions to 1 or 2 per lecture so you don’t cross the line from involved to annoying.
3. Stop By
Once you’ve proven you care enough to attend class, and bright enough to engage in the material while you’re in class, it’s time to take the next big step and visit your professor.
Most professors hold office hours weekly, and list these hours in the syllabus. These hours are specifically designed for students to stop by and chat, yet few students actually take advantage of them. Most professors spend their office hours sitting quietly and working; your visit will likely be very welcome. If your professor doesn’t have office hours, send them an e-mail to request a meeting.
When it comes to office hours, the earlier in the semester you go, the better. It shows you’re just eager in the class, rather than hoping for some last-minute exam tips. But, don’t just show up unprepared: it’s easier if you have a specific discussion topic in mind. Maybe you want advice on the writing requirements for the course. Maybe there’s a point in the readings you would like to go over again. Often, this jumping off point will lead to more casual conversation, but it’s good to have a ‘reason’ to show up, so you don’t come off as just trying to network.
Are You Ready?
Now that you’ve read our tips, get out there and get your profs to see what an amazing college student you are! What are your best tips for getting in their good books? Do you make an effort, or is it something you haven’t thought of? Leave us a comment and let us know.