Tips for Connecting With Professors and Getting What You Need

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Learning how to study in college can be a daunting task for many students. With lots of information you receive from professors, it can often be difficult to comprehend. Especially figuring out what to focus on for exams or class assignments. However, professors can be a perfect resource! Here are a couple of tips you can use to connect with professors and ensure that you are getting the help that you need.

Connect with professors:

  • Go to office hours! Many professors will list their office hours on the syllabus they provide you with at the beginning of the semester. Be proactive and go to their office hours if you need help, or run into any problems, or need accommodations
  • Always ask for accommodations in a timely manner and make sure you’re asking for accommodations for a valid reason. Don’t make excuses because it’s likely that your professors have heard them all
  • Use office hours effectively! Come prepared with your questions and be clear about how they can help you.
  • Professors are also often willing to meet with you at other times if the time listed for their office hours does not work for you.
  • Some professors may also share their emails and personal phone numbers with you, but use this with discretion. Usually professors will let you know the best way to reach them, when you can reach them and when they are not available.

Most professors prefer proper email etiquette. What is etiquette? Email etiquette is about respect and common sense. The same respect and professionalism you expect others to show to you is also crucial when writing your own communications. For some students, it can be intimidating emailing a professor for the first time. However, if you are using a Gmail account, you can set it up where you have an email signature. What is an email signature? An email signature is the block of the text that is appended to the end of the email you send. It typically has your name. For example, if you send an email from your iPhone, it usually says sent “Sent from my iPhone.”

How and when to use professors:

  • Introduce yourself to your professors at the beginning of the semester. Go to their office hours, ask them questions about themselves, their course and their line of work. Not only will they remember you, but they will love that you took the initiative to seek them out and get to know them.
  • Remember that professors are people too, who were once students themselves, so they know your pain! Don’t be afraid to share your concerns with them. If you’re having difficulty balancing school and work with your other commitments, have a conversation with a professor. Since they also are tasked with balancing teaching, research, service and their personal lives, they are well equipped to give advice on time management and finding the right balance.
  • Go to office hours when you need help with assignments, or help preparing for an exam. This can be either before an assignment is due, or before you take an exam. You can also seek a professor out while you are working on an assignment, and even after your professor hands an assignment or exam back to you.
  • Professors can also provide you with feedback on assignments, and ways that you can improve on the next assignment or exam.
  • They can also connect you with resources and opportunities, such as jobs and internships.
  • Many professors are also willing to scan book chapters for you and others in the class if you do not have access to, or can’t afford the course textbooks.
  • Remember that the most fruitful conversations with professors will be centered around learning. It will be more beneficial to you if you have a conversation with a professor about course material, and demonstrate what you are learning and taking away from their class, rather than arguing about a grade that you got on a paper or an exam.
  • Professors are open to providing extensions when necessary, but it has to be for a valid reason. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be absent from class, or cannot turn in an assignment on the assigned due date, notify your professors in advance so you can schedule a makeup time if you are missing an exam, or another due date if you need an extension on a paper.
  • After the end of the semester you can ask your professor to connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • Professors can be a perfect resource to help you shape your future. Also help you figure out which career path you want to go. All you have to do as a student is be the student to your professor.