How to build a good relationship with your professors?
I heading into university and due to Covid-19, my first semester is going to be online. Of course, there are going to be many obstacles but the most troubling is connecting with professors. I want to get to know them as well as making myself known and that I want to excel in their class.
But I also don't want to be the student that is labelled as a suck-up or a try-hard.
I love seeing that you are already preparing yourself for your first semester of college. Getting to know my professors was definitely something that I had to get used to when I started college. One thing that helped me is realizing that my professors are humans too and appreciate students reaching out to connect with them. The best way to connect with your professor is through their office hours that they will hold even in the virtual environment. Even if you don't have a question, it can be beneficial to go and introduce yourself and express that you are excited for the class.
If you have a class that really interest you and possible connects your future career plans, dont hesitate to email the professor and ask to discuss more about the subject and your future plans together. Professors are there to help, but you just have to take that extra step to ask for their help.
The best way to build a strong relationship with a professor is to show that you are truly interested and engaged in their class. Most professors are extremely passionate about what they teach and if you show you are interested as well, it will go a long way. So, always go to class, ask questions, and engage in discussion.
Additionally, go to office hours! This will be even more important with the shift to virtual instruction. Office hours are a great opportunity to have one-on-one time with professors and ask questions about the class or about things outside of class.
The biggest suggestion I would give you on building relationships with professors is to do it early! Many people (myself included) wait until the end of their college career to build ties with professors, which can limit the number of professors and opportunities you are exposed to. I would suggest that you attend office hours regardless of your academic performance, as this is the primary way to get to know your professors. Doing this earlier in the semester when offices are less crowded will make it easier.
The benefits of doing so are many. For one, professors are much more lenient with assessments if they actually know you. Furthermore if you want to pursue higher education, continue research, or even explore job opportunities, a letter of recommendation can go a long way.
I've been taking online classes throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers, so I totally get wanting to stand out amongst a sea of students. Whenever I start a new class, I usually email the professor introducing myself, and asking if they have any advice or suggestions for how to succeed during their course. If I'm particularly interested in the professor themselves or the subject matter, I'll find out when their office hours are and schedule some time to talk with them over video or phone. I especially recommend doing this in the beginning of the class, because more students will have questions related to the course as time goes on and it'll be more difficult to get some time in with the professor. If they are someone in the field you're studying or their career path is relevant to what you want to do, ask if they'd have time to chat and maybe consider being your mentor.
Just be polite and understanding of their time, and do your best in the courses, it goes a long way!
In my personal experience, getting to know one of my professors led me to taking another class he offered the following year. By my senior year, I had the opportunity to contribute to his published book and he served as a mentor for my senior writing project. Here are some tips on how to get to know your professors, even if it starts virtually for the time being.
1. Check out their work. Most professors have written published articles or studies in their field of work. By being knowledgeable about your teacher’s projects, you can understand their areas of expertise better and can establish talking points.
2. Ask about other courses he/she teaches, suggest if you could listen in to another class or learn more about other topics he or she is familiar with. If the topic interests you, take another one of his or her classes the following year.
3. Go attend your professor’s virtual lectures/events. They will notice that you have an interest in what they say outside of the classroom setting.
4. Work up the nerve to attend your professor’s virtual office hours. Introduce yourself within the first few weeks of class by email or through video conferencing and share your interest in the topics that he/she will be teaching later in the semester, ask questions about his/her background, and ask for guidance to navigate through the class successfully.
5. Engage in virtual conversations with your professor after class (whether it be through email correspondence or video, ask him/her how you can improve after he or she provides feedback on your paper, test, etc.
6. And lastly, actively participate in virtual class discussions, showcase your interest in the topics covered.
Sit in the front of the class and make sure that you engaged in any group conversations and projects.
In my personal experience, building a strong relationship with anyone needs to start genuinely. I would suggest introducing yourself over email or in person if you are allowed to. Include a few bits about your personal life, interests, and hobbies so that you break down the barrier and allow your professor to feel comfortable sharing as well. Staring the relationship in this kind of way will show you are genuinely interested in having a relationship with the professor, vs. just using their knowledge/material for coursework.
I agree with other responses that it would be great to show that you have done your due diligence and know about their background in academia. Definitely attend any virtual sessions that the professor hosts. I would personally send the professor an email if you really liked a specific lecture or teaching one day. This will help show you are interested no matter if the lesson is awesome or a little confusing!
All in all - you definitely need to be genuine if you are trying to build a lasting relationship. Hope this helps and best of luck to you!