How to get an “in” with your professors
At almost every college orientation, someone gets up in front of a huge group of freshmen and tells them to get to know their professors. We all know it’s important for succeeding in class, securing letters of recommendation, and having an overall better college experience, but how exactly do you do it? Especially if you’re at a large university, connecting with your professors can seem like a daunting task. But the benefits that can come from those relationships are innumerable.
One of the best ways to get to know a professor is to sign up for smaller classes. There are usually big lectures that you can’t avoid, but try your best to get into a few classes with only 20 to 30 people. If there aren’t any classes like this that fit in your schedule, try signing up for lectures that also have smaller discussion groups or labs. Then amp up your participation so your professor doesn’t just remember you as student #276 in Biology 101.
If getting into a smaller class isn’t possible right now, try sitting as close to the front of your class as you can. Not only will you be able to hear and see better, but if you sit up front and participate in class, your professor will start to recognise you. Especially in big lectures, professors appreciate the people who are brave enough to speak up and it will give you a lot of brownie points.
The next best step in getting to know your professors is taking the time to go to their office hours. Show up at the beginning of the course to introduce yourself and then pop in a few more times throughout the semester with a question or two. Not only will your professor get to know you, but they’ll definitely appreciate your dedication to the class.
Now that you’ve formed a relationship with your professor, how do you keep it going for the rest of your college career?
Try going to events that your professors are attending or hosting. Chances are your professor is involved with some sort of campus organization, lecture series, or professional panel. These types of extracurricular events are simple ways to reconnect with a professor and keep your name fresh in their mind. While connecting over email is also a great way to go, face-to-face interactions really can’t be beat.
If at the end of your four years, or even at the end of a class, you feel you have a really strong connection to your professor, it’s always nice to send them a hand-written thank you note telling them you appreciate their guidance and you hope to stay in touch. And then make you sure you do! You never know how a professor may help you in the future.