One of the privileges of being in college is being able to draw inspiration and knowledge from respected faculty and staff. However, it’s not always easy to gain their respect in return. Between classes, grades and letters of recommendation, these professors more or less hold your future in their hands. So, if you want to impress your professor, follow these simple tips and garner that respect you so much deserve.
1. Introduce yourself
On the first day of school, a simple “Hi, my name is …” accompanied with “I’m really looking forward to taking this class” will go a long way. You’re telling the professor right off the bat that you are ready to learn, and while he or she may forget your name in 10 minutes, odds are they will quickly begin to form positive associations with you.
2. Compliment genuinely
Now this may sound like sucking up, but who doesn’t get a warm, fuzzy feeling right in the heart of their ego when someone offers a few encouraging words of praise? Give compliments! However, make sure they are genuine. If you like the professor’s shoes, let them know. Or even better, how about a “I took your poetry course as a freshman and it inspired me to study literature.” If there is truth in such statements, your professor will know and appreciate them.
In classes that have a discussion element, be sure to participate. There’s no need to dominate the class discussion, but do show your professors and TA’s that you are willing to engage with the material. Never be too embarrassed or afraid to raise your hand.
4. Ask questions
Asking engaging questions is a great way for students who are less confident in their knowledge to get involved. Asking a professor politely to “please clarify how the class tensions lead to the war of…” shows that you are actively thinking about the material.
5. Visit office hours
Nothing says “I care about my education” more than taking time out of your day to visit office hours. Prepare questions ahead of time such as “I was really interested in class when you talked about the symbolic relationship between blah blah blah. I was considering it as a paper topic and was wondering whether it’s valid to then say blah blah blah.”
6. Body language
When in class, be mindful of your body language. Nodding along to the professor’s interesting points while taking notes looks a lot better in comparison to slumping in your seat and staring at your phone.
7. Sit in the same seat
If you always sit in the same area of class, it will be a lot easier for the professor to recognize you, especially in those big lecture halls.
8. Arrive on time
Don’t be that kid who walks into class five minutes late every week. And for those situations where that does inevitably happen, be quite, respectful, and appear apologetic. Don’t waltz in like you own the place.
9. Figure out pet peeves
Every professor, and human for that matter, has pet peeves. They are usually pretty easy to spot off the bat. Some Professors bluntly say what annoys them most, others subtly give looks of pure hatred when they’re irked by that one student who always brings tuna to class and takes his shoes off. Ask your peers who have dealt with your professors before what ticks them off, or check out sites like Ratemyprofessor.com beforehand.
10. Never ask questions that are answered in the syllabus
This one speaks for itself. Stop wasting your professor’s time by asking questions that are very clearly stated in the syllabus. Or in other words, READ THE SYLLABUS.
11. Don’t forget about TA’s
TA’s usually do a great deal of grading, and while it’s often easier to form more casual relationships with TA’s than with professors, it’s a mistake to let your guard down and forget to display yourself in the same respectful and dignified matter in section courses.
12. Write professional emails
While some professors are more casual than others, a general rule of thumb is to always write professional sounding emails. Also, keep them sparse. Your professors have lives of their own and don’t need to be bombarded by emails when you can go to designated office hours to talk in person about these issues.
13. Dress to impress
It’s not that hard to change out of your PJ’s, is it?
14. Ask about their research
Odds are your professors are conducting some kind of research, or they have a very particular field of study not addressed in the class. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to ask them about it. Pick their brains a bit. They will feel complimented by your interest, and you get to learn some cool stuff too. It’s a win-win.
15. Ask about opportunities outside the classroom
If you feel as though you are in good standing with your professor, ask them whether they know of any research, internships, or publishing opportunities. They usually walk in some pretty academic circles and will probably have good advice, and maybe even offer to recommend you. Even if not, you are simultaneously displaying your drive and ambition.
Featured image source: storify.com and marcusengel.com
Carissa Atallah is pursuing degrees in English and Art at The University of California Merced. Recently returned from a semester abroad in London, she is passionate about learning and travel, and strives toward a career in writing.