Why build a relationship with your professor?
How to build a relationship with your professor:
- Introduce yourself – this might seem a bit obvious, but it’s often the scariest part. At the beginning of every semester you should either introduce yourself before or after class, otherwise stop into office hours and do so. A quick, “Hi, my name is Morgan and I’m really excited for your class.” can suffice, but if you can expand on that even better! You can ask how the information will relate to a previous class you took, whether they can recommend any outside reading to help you understand, anything to show that you are an eager and diligent student.
- Go to office hours – Professors are there waiting for students, but most students will never take advantage of this opportunity to get one on one help! If you are struggling (or if you just want to make sure that you’re understanding!) then you can go and have your professor set you on the right path. This is going to show to them that you are willing to put in extra time and effort to understand the material.
- Don’t skip class – I repeat: don’t skip class. On Mondays and Wednesdays I have a class at two that technically has around 70 students enrolled, but we are lucky if fifteen show up. Now the professor knows the few of us who do show up, and beyond the long term benefits of making a good impression on him, he often rewards our attendance with straightforward advice on what to study for upcoming exams, and every now and then (if very few of us show up) he’ll give us a bonus point for being there.
- Get help early – Don’t wait until you’ve bombed three assignments to go in for help – show the initiative to go in after the first so you can figure out what you’re not understanding and get caught up before you fall too far behind. Again, this shows that you’re a passionate student ready to learn even if you have to make an extra effort.
Things to keep in mind:
- Take these steps early in the semester – towards the end professors are swarmed with students making a desperate last ditch effort to get their grade up. If you’re three months in and just now introducing yourself, it’s going to look a bit fishy.
- Be genuine – again, professors have to deal with a lot of people trying to get a boost in their grade without putting in the work, and if you’re shmoozing and brown nosing then chances are the professor will see right through you.
- You don’t have to build a relationship with every professor, every semester. Focus on professors teaching a class that you are passionate about or that is relevant to your future career path.