Building a Prof Relationship

Ashley Dailey is a recent Valdosta State University graduate and is currently on the job-hunt! She majored in English and Creative Writing and hopes to join the working world as an editor or copywriter.

As a freshman college student, starting and building new relationships can be both exciting and intimidating. Being on a new campus with fresh faces means new opportunities for friendship and romance. One type of relationship new college students oftentimes neglect, however, is professional relationships: their professors.

Creating and maintaining good relationships with your professors allows for growth as a student and a professional – something that many, unfortunately, don’t start considering until later in their college careers. During college, my relationships with professors led to all sorts of exciting opportunities; I presented at a national conference, was recommended for departmental awards, and was able override into classes that typically were not offered to my major. Don’t get me wrong – I also had to earn those opportunities by producing quality work. But connection and communication with my professors opened many doors that I would otherwise not have known existed. So how do you get in with your biology professor in a survey class of 150 students? It’s not as hard as you think.

Firstly, don’t be a wallflower; ask questions in class! I know, I know. You hate the looks you get from those around you who are only interested in receiving a checkmark on the attendance sheet. But remember who you are trying to impress. Asking questions and speaking in class shows initiative and interest – two traits that freshmen can lack. Your professor is obviously passionate about his/her field of study. Show your professor that you have a common interest and that you think what he/she has to say matters.

Secondly, use those office hours. You’ve heard this from everyone, including your professor when he/she went over the syllabus the first day of class. But I’ll tell you again because it’s important. Visit your professor during his/her office hours (or schedule an appointment), and do it before you make a bad grade on the midterm. Be proactive and demonstrate that you’re preparing early-on. If you’re preparing for a test, make a list of concepts that confuse you. If it’s a paper, take in an outline or a rough draft. Always know what you’re going to address because you don’t want to waste your professor’s time.

Thirdly, go to events outside of class. That poetry reading that your English teacher has been gushing about for a month? Yeah, you should be there. Besides the fact that, once again, this demonstrates interest and initiative, you will probably learn something valuable, make some great connections, and have a good time. You may not be offered extra credit to go, but your attendance will earn you something else: respect from your professor.

It really doesn’t take a lot to build a relationship with your professor. Most are enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and building the scholarly community. All you have to do is show interest and get off your bum! And what else are you in college for, after all?

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