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How do you become closer to your professor?

A lot of people advise getting closer to your professor better because they can help in many different ways in the future- whether it be recommendations or possible internship opportunities. What are some ways to become closer? I seem to have difficulty finding topics to talk about with them that are respectable, but also not only about school.
#professors #relations #university #july20


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Helen’s Answer

Hi KK, I recommend engaging in classroom discussions and utilizing office hours where you can get answers to your questions or delve deeper into a topic. When I was a freshman, I was intimidated by office hours and attempted to solve problems on my own rather than utilize my resources. If a certain professor's course is especially interesting, they may teach an advance version of the course or do research in that area. You can ask to be involved in their research after taking one of their courses. From there, you can get a better idea on what future opportunities you can pursue.

Thank you! I'll make sure to find out if the professor has any research they're working on currently. K K.

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Laura’s Answer

Hi KK! To build a good relationship with your professor, my suggestion is that you should be proactive both inside and outside the classroom. The professor will note your enthusiasm and willingness to learn if you actively participate in class discussions. Additionally, come to office hours and schedule some 1:1 time. You can ask queries regarding to the course and discuss on your career plans. Topics that you can discuss outside of school can be along the lines of his background - what did he study in university, why was he interested in the field, any extra curricular activities he finds helpful and would recommend you to do to excel in this field, has he remained connected to network peers established during his time in college, etc. Let him know that you are interested in exploring on and/or off campus internships and maintain engagement so he’ll note your interest the next time he has an opportunity.

Thank you! Your point on the professor's background is very helpful. K K.

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Alejandra’s Answer

Great question! It is important to get to know some of your professors closely. They can serve as mentors and can offer you extracurricular opportunities that can strengthen your resume (i.e. research, internship, volunteering). Your professors are also sources for access to educational resources, advice and can produce letters of recommendation when it comes time to your job or graduate school applications.

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.

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 sit in 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 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 visit your professor’s office hours. Introduce yourself within the first few weeks of class one-on-one 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 conversations with your professor after class, ask him/her how you can improve after he or she provides feedback on your paper, test, etc.

6. Actively participate in class discussions, showcase your interest in the topics covered.

Thank you! I'll make sure to check out other works the professor has accomplished. K K.

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Steve’s Answer

KK,
Great question! I would start by doing the prework and any pre-reading before lectures so that you can ask thoughtful questions during the lecture. This demonstrates not only your respect for the course, but also your desire to have meaningful dialogue during the lecture and interest in the topic. As the professor takes notice of you (positively) during lectures, the office hours conversations will be much more meaningful.

Steve

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Clare’s Answer

Hi KK,

Having been involved with multiple academic departments, I can confidently say that being dedicated, respectful, and enthusiatstic about the material will be your advantage in this. Professors and teaching staff are always hopeful that students will be interested and engaged in classes and activities, and will generally do whatever they can to encourage their students to excel in their studies.

If you engage in class discussions, answer questions, and submit your assignments and classwork on time, I can almost gurantee that your professor is aware of your dedication and efforts to succeed. Don't be afraid to email them, or arrange for visits during office hours, but be genuine in your requests for their time. They are usually overly busy and have many demands on their time, and repetitive or disingenuous behaviour will be seen negatively.

Just remember - enjoy your studies, and you will excel!

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Christine’s Answer

Great question and good responses. I just wanted to add that it is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of professors really want to get to know you and to assist you with career development issues. Like any relationship, a mentoring relationship will develop over time, and you will likely feel more comfortable talking to a professor the longer you know him/her or the more interactions that you have with the person. If by chance, you encounter a professor who does not seem interested or appears too busy to interact with you, do not be discouraged as this is certainly not the norm, and you should seek out another professor who will make time for you. Most professors see mentoring students as one of the most important, if not the most important, responsbility that they have as faculty members and enjoy working one-on-one with students --- especially those like you who take the initiative to seek them as a resource in order to optimize their college experience and career development. Best of luck!

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Steve’s Answer

KK,
Great question! I would start by doing the prework and any pre-reading before lectures so that you can ask thoughtful questions during the lecture. This demonstrates not only your respect for the course, but also your desire to have meaningful dialogue during the lecture and interest in the topic. As the professor takes notice of you (positively) during lectures, the office hours conversations will be much more meaningful.

Steve

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