Professors are very important to your college career. They can be a great resource when it comes to your grades (how about raising that 89.4 to a 90 por favor?), important internships and job opportunities, as well as just being a future colleague of yours. Especially when it comes to professors who teach classes in your major, it is very important to get to know them.
When I first started reading college help guides a lot of people had some fairly strange ways to get to know your professor, without mentioning the really mundane ways that you could get to know them. Asking your professor to lunch is just plain creepy in my book, but there are a lot of easy ways to hang out with them and get to know them.
Choose your seat wisely
There are a few places you can sit if you want to be noticed in a classroom. As a nerdy nerd/awesome person who wants your teacher to be able to really talk with you this is your T-Zone or Go Zone if you will. The first two rows are golden, if those are taken go for the middle row seats. If you want to be really crazy sit in the middle on the top two rows. The first two rows are great because you will be close to the board and your professor and the middle is great because you will be close to your professor and right in their line of vision. This will help you connect with your professors a lot and get a great experience in the classroom. Avoid the green areas if you can.
I also just like the front seats because you get to know a lot about your professors and they usually converse with the people on the front rows before class. I used to have a really awesome professor and sitting on the front rows were fun in his class because he was a more reserved person and had a lot of funny snarky things to say that most of the class couldn’t hear unless you sat in the front.
Once you choose your seat, go to class
Going to class is very important. Even if you chose an excellent seat your great relationship with your professor can all be undone once they realize how often you skip class. Missing class in college is not the smartest decision anyway because you miss so much material. It’s also not smart because professors catch on to more than you know. Even in a larger class.
For example one time I was in physical science (a classroom with about 100 students) and I missed lecture, but I didn’t miss lab because I really needed to go to lab. My teacher talked to me and said “Missed you in class today.” This was interesting, mainly because I could have sworn she didn’t know I existed. I was used to classes being no more than 30 in my major so this was very different, and it was kinda strange being called out like that.
Make it a point to participate
Participation is a huge way to get your professor to know you, your thoughts, and your work. Participating is an easy way to build a relationship with your professor through exchanging ideas about course material. Don’t be afraid to speak up and let your professor know you are excited about (or at least tolerating) the course.
Let your work speak for itself
Another way to build a relationship, and sometimes the only way, is through your work. Sometimes in big universities the only way a professor can truly get to know you is through your work. Let your personality and seriousness about your work shine through your homework, papers, journals, etc. Sometimes this is your only tool, so you have to use it well. Your work says a lot about you so let it speak well.
Office hours are a great way to get to know your professor and figure out what you could be doing better in the course. Some key times to talk to your professor:
- After your first exam.
- After you are given instructions for a major assignment (ex. a paper)
- Before you turn in a major assignment.
Don’t make it a point to go to office hours every week, but have a reason. Save up a few questions, talk about how you can improve your studying techniques for the class, go over your outline for a paper, etc. Be careful not to waste your professors time or the time of students who really need their help because you want to get to know the professor. If you have a question or two number 6 will be of help to you.
Talk to your professor before or after class
Professors often come to class before and stick around after class unless they have a back to back schedule. Use that time to ask your simple questions and just to get to know them. It can be a bit ridiculous to see a professor during office hours for one question, but it’s not ridiculous at all to ask that question before or after class.
During the few years of my college career I got involved with Sociology Club at my university. This was extremely helpful for me because it allowed me to get to know my Sociology professors outside of class and it allowed me to get involved more with my major. If you want to be even more involved hold an office within your departmental club. This is a surefire way to get to know either your professor more, or professors you might have in your department.
Your department may not have these, if they don’t suggest them. Each semester my department in undergrad had various ways for students to get to know professors. Through our Sociology Club who helped get students to the event we had a meet and greet toward the end of every semester. All the professors pitched in and got various foods at the event and the professors all came to the event to talk with interested students about the major and their courses. It was a fun way to show that you were interested outside of the classroom and a fun way to get to know professors. You can find out a lot about a professor based on which dish they bring to a party.
We also have a semesterly award ceremony that all majors were invited to. This was another way for us to get to know the professors and eat food. Who doesn’t love eating food? Also we celebrated all the amazing students who came through our doors.
I hope you enjoyed these 8 tips on building a relationship with your professor. Remember that not all relationship builders are active. Your professor can learn a lot about you through passive actions such as turning in your work on time, getting to class on time, preparing for class, etc. Remember that your image is being calculated all the time, and it’s not just composed of what you say to your professor verbally.