7 answers

What should I ask/say to a professor to form a relationship with them if I don't have any questions about class topics?

9
100% of 7 Pros
Asked Viewed 139 times Translate
9
100% of 7 Pros

7 answers

Aaron’s Answer

2
100% of 2 Pros
Updated Translate
Ask them a few questions about themselves to warm up the conversation. How did they end up choosing their profession? What fascinates them the most about the subject they're teaching? What are their research interests? Show a genuine interest in them and I think the conversation will naturally progress from there.
2
100% of 2 Pros

Angela D.’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate
Great advice from Alice and Luis! Speaking as an educator/teacher/professor, we do enjoy getting to know our students. We also like to hear about what's working in the course (e.g., visuals, book/readings, activities, presentations, online course materials, extra credit, makeups, tossing out the lowest quiz score, etc.) so we can keep doing what's valued. By NOT mentioning something, that's a gentle cue for us to reexamine those aspects of the class (!) without you being critical. Office hours are best to speak with a professor or after class (we're usually busy setting up beforehand). I've listed some of my favorite questions from students below. Please note that networking with professors can potentially lead to several opportunities such as mentoring, guidance on how to submit a conference proposal, contributing to faculty research, a nomination to an honor society, and/or a letter of recommendation. Wishing you the best in your endeavors, Dr. B

Why did you choose this field of study? What has been the most surprising finding in your research or area of expertise? What do you like most about teaching and why? Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography or biography? And my all time favorite: If you could go back in time to when you were in college, what advice would you give to your younger self...especially in terms of work/volunteer experience and educational success?
1
100% of 1 Pros

Alice Foster’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate
Hi, Olivia! Many people think that a student has to need something from the professor to reach out to them, but that is not the case. Instructors want to get the know the students in their classes, and it is perfectly appropriate—even encouraged—to just stop by after class or, better yet, go by during office hours to say hello. You can simply say that you thought it would be helpful to be able to put a face to the name on the roster so you wanted to introduce yourself.

You don’t need a long conversation to make an impression. Just showing up tells the professor that you are invested. However, it would be helpful to have at least one thing to say or ask about so that you don’t find yourself introducing yourself and then saying “Yeah, well, that was all I wanted…” within 30 seconds. Professors often mention their own work in class; maybe s/he did research in Peru, for example, so you can say you’ve never been to Peru and ask what it’s like. Maybe s/he has referenced a book that you read for another class that you could mention and make some comment on.

If you are truly interested in the subject area and want to invest in it, you can ask for recommendations for publications or websites in that area that you should check out, or somebody interesting in the field that you should follow on social media. Those kinds of things need to be genuine, though. The professor could very well follow up with you later to see what you thought, and you will need to show that you asked with the intention of following through.

Alice Foster recommends the following next steps:

  • Just say hello! Professors are people too, and even just stopping on your way out of class to say that you really enjoyed the lecture or the group discussion is a positive.
  • Be honest. Don't ask for recommendations that you know you won't follow through on, and commit to yourself to follow through when your intentions are sincere.
1
100% of 1 Pros

Carol’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate
Hi Olivia,

There has always been a misconception that lecturers favor students who are involved in the subjects they teach.

To connect to a person you look up to you can always have discussions regarding your future plans, career growth, etc.

Lecturers are always fond of students who like to ask for advice from them in anything and everything.
1
100% of 1 Pros

Luis’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate
I would suggest to ask the professor about any general career advice pertaining to your goals. Also, you could ask about any future college course recommendations. However , it’s always best to ask about course topics and any confusing points pertaining to the course. This shows personal interest in the course and self-improvement. Mainly, just be yourself and try to show interest and initiative in the course without being to overbearing. Good luck.
1
100% of 1 Pros

Nina’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate
If this is a career you really want to go into, you might make an appointment with him/her and to talk with you a bit; questions that might be helpful to you are:
"What made you choose your career?"
"What other things were you interested in?"
"How did you start to figure out which area was something you really wanted to pursue?"
"What hands-on experience would you recommend I look into?"
"What are some jobs related to the field you are in?"
"What double major or minor would you recommend?"
"What major will give me a wide job market?"
These are some ideas that will hopefully get you started in a good direction.
Exciting time of life you are in!
1
100% of 1 Pros

Syed’s Answer

0
Updated Translate
Hi Olivia,

Look up the professor’s bio and ask them questions related to their personal and career background. You might find that you share common interests or some other common factor like faith, community involvement, hometown, language, etc.

You can also read abstracts of their research papers or articles and ask questions about those things. Lastly, if they’re involved with any special programs or institutes on campus or off campus, ask them about their work there and how you can get involved.
0