One of the Spring 2017 semester goals I laid out for myself is to attend my professors’ office hours more often. As a freshman, I didn’t go to a single one. That also means that I barely built relationships with my professors. In my mind, because I didn’t have any specific homework questions to ask, there was no need to go.
Boy, was I wrong.
I want to meet my professors and get to know them this semester. If you’re not sure why this is important, or if you want some advice keep reading below!
Why it’s important.
First of all, let’s start with why you should bother going to office hours.
Undoubtedly, we all know that getting to know our professors is important. But why is it important? There are so benefits to this that may be unclear or hidden!
Here are just a few reasons why you should talk to your professors:
- They can help you out with the course. I cover this a little more in depth later on in this post! But long story short: you can do significantly better in the class by talking to your professors.
- They can write recommendation letters for you. It can be nearly impossible to write a good letter of recommendation for a student you don’t really know. Do yourself and your professors a favor and let them get to know you! This is especially beneficial if you want to go into the field they’re teaching!
- You can become a TA. If you do well in the class and the teacher knows your capabilities, you can ask them to become a TA for the course. This will be very helpful to gain more knowledge and experience in the field.
- They can help you with research opportunities. Whether they are doing research themselves or know other faculty members who are, if you ask they can help you out!
Go to their office hours.
This may seem obvious, but I know so many students that only talk to their professors before or after class. While this may get your teacher to recognize you, a few minutes once in a while won’t give them enough time to actually get to know you! It may be less convenient, but it’s so worth it to attend office hours.
Don’t be intimidated to go! Professors have met with thousands of nervous students; just treat it like a chat. Read on for some topics on what to talk about during office hours that I covered below!
That one-on-one interaction will let your professor put a name to your face. With so many students they have to teach, this is so vital!
Sit in the same spot consistently.
This may not be as effective as going to office hours, but if you sit in the same spot (especially if you sit near the front!) your professor will start to recognize you. This may be a downside if you’re planning on missing class often. But if not, this can be a small thing you can do that will help!
My professor once talked to me before lecture and asked me if I was feeling okay because I missed the last lecture. Mind you, this is a massive auditorium lecture! He let me know what I missed and expressed genuine concern (I was really sick), which was awesome.
Call them by the right title!
Be respectful with your professors! They earned their titles and deserved to be called by them. For example, if you slaved away for years to get a Doctorate, you deserved to be called Dr. so-and-so. Even if they don’t have that title, you should call them Professor so-and-so as opposed to Mr. or Mrs. because that’s the best title for them.
What to talk about.
You don’t need a problem on a homework assignment to have a reason to talk to your professors! If you’re avoiding meeting your professors because you don’t know what to talk about, here are a few pointers:
- Tell them what period you have their class. If you go to big lecture classes with multiple periods, it’s important to let your professor know what period you’re in. Make it casual! “Hey my name is XYZ from your X period class!”. That way, they can pick out your face next time, if they remember!
- Ask them how to study best. Your professor writes the exams (probably) so they’ll know how to study best. Of course, you can’t expect them to tell you exactly what to study or anything too specific. But they can tell you if reading the textbooks would be very helpful or if doing extra problems would do the trick! I had a professor once tell me to do the problems at the end of every chapter and some questions showed up on the exam! Do not phrase it like you’re asking for specific help, just ask them for advice.
- Ask them for advice on how to succeed in the class. Their help goes beyond exams! Chances are, they’ve been teaching the same course for some time now. They will probably know what students have done in the past to succeed, and would be more than willing to give you tips! I had professors tell me that study groups were not at all helpful and some tell me that certain note-taking methods are better than others.
- Tell them how you feel about the subject. Sometimes, you have to take courses that you’re not really into. That’s perfectly okay, and professors know that! It might be a little weird, but admitting to them that you’ve had difficulty in the course beforehand can be very beneficial. They can tell you how to approach the material and how to do your best, even if it isn’t your forte.
Introduce yourself to your professors!
It can feel unnecessary. Trust me, I know. Like I said before, I didn’t go to a single one of my professors’ office hours in my freshman year. But, ultimately, that ended up hurting me. Make Spring semester the semester you start meeting your professors! Some of mine have been really cool and fun to talk to.
Do you often go to office hours? What do you talk to your professors about?