Today I wanted to share my thoughts about an aspect of college life that is often treated as… well, not a priority: Professors. A lot of students seem to forget that the person standing at the front of the room is not only a professor, but also a mentor, reference, advisor, and, most importantly, a person. Professors love when you take time to get to know them, and getting to know them is highly important while you’re in college. I go to a college where the faculty to student ratio is 13:1, so I have an easier time getting to know my professors than students at colleges or universities where the ratio is 25:1. (Admissions tip: while looking at colleges, make sure you look at this ratio and consider if you want to be a person or a number).
I know it can be difficult to get to know professors when in school because you have extracurricular activities to go to, friends to hangout with, family members calling to talk, and sleep to catch up on, but know that college is ultimately about education. All of the things in your life are important, but a major part of succeeding in a class is the professor. If you know the professor well, you’re more likely to admit when you don’t understand something or when you need help studying for an exam or while writing a paper. In light of this, I wanted to offer some tips about how to get to know professors!
First, make a point to participate in class. By speaking up, your professor will know you care, that you are paying attention, and they will remember your name more easily.
Second, ask questions. While constantly spewing information is great, asking thoughtful or challenging questions will show your professor you are engaged, and have a desire to learn more about the subject material.
Third, go to office hours! I can seriously not stress this enough. In my experience, professors are much more laid back in office hours, and are willing to really talk with your about the class or just about life if necessary. Also, by going to see your professor on your own time, instead of going on a coffee run with friends, they will see that you really want to learn from them. This is another way of getting them to remember not only your name, but also who you are as a person and a student.
Fourth, ask them about themselves. Find out where they went to school, what their experience in college was, or how they feel about the subject matter you are studying. Asking about them opens them up a little, and allows for a greater bond to grow than just “I’m your professor, and I will teach you about the literature produced during the Renaissance.”
Lastly, read some of their work. Almost all professors, unless they are new, have published something about what they teach. If you’re interested in the material they are teaching, and want to know what they think about it, read up on them. Reading their work will also show you how successful they are outside of the classroom. Also, a lot of professors write about things that may not be in the curriculum of the class, but is still super interesting!
So, get to know your professors! If you plan to go to graduate school or get a job after college, professors are great recommenders. You do not want to get to the final stage of college, and realize you aren’t close enough to any professor to ask him or her for a letter of recommendation. Also, the experience of college is simply superior if you have good relationships with professors because you will get way more out of your classes. Professors are seasoned veterans in whatever field of study you pursue, and they are at your disposal, so take full advantage!
How do you get to know your professors?