Having good working relationships with your professors has a huge impact on how successful and engaging your college career is going to be. Being on good terms with them does not only increases your likelihood of getting good grades and help in your research – but it can also help you build a rewarding and successful career after you graduate. So how do you build and maintain such relationships? Read on and find out!
1. Learn More about the Professors and Their Research
If somebody works as a college professor, you can be pretty sure that he/she is quite interested in his/her discipline and research. Finding out what the person in question works on should be your first step towards building rapport with him/her. Most professors have a page on the university’s website and regularly edit it to keep it up to date with their activities. There you will be able to find the list of publications and other activities they are involved in.
2. Do not Be Afraid to Inconvenience Them
Professors’ main function is to teach their students and help them shape their interests. It is what they are there for. So do not be shy. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Chances are, the professor you’ve chosen will be happy to assist you. Even if he/she won’t, you are not losing anything – you can always reach out to somebody else.
3. Respect the Time of Your Professor
Do not make your professor lose time over you. For example, when you write a paper and prepare it for submission, make sure you’ve done everything to bring it to perfection. Edit and proofread it before you submit it. If you doubt your ability to do it on your own, contact a specialized service and say, “Edit my research paper for me” instead. Do not address your professor when you need help with simple and obvious issues you can resolve otherwise. When you write an email, be concise and to the point – do not force the professor to read a lengthy message to understand what you are talking about.
4. Visit the Professor during Office Hours
Office hours are the time specifically set aside for students to ask professors for help and guidance. Don’t be afraid to visit your professor during them, and start doing it early on, before you actually need anything specific. Remember – the most productive and relationship-boosting communication between a student and a professor is centered on learning and acquisition of knowledge, not on grades.
5. Maintain the Relationship
Building rapport with a professor is not a one-off event. You are supposed to work on it continuously and maintain communication over time. Make it a rule to get in touch with the professor in question at least every few weeks. If you have not received all the information you needed on a particular point, do not shy away from reaching out to the professor again. As long as you keep the communication meaningful, you need not to be worried about being too pushy.
6. Talk about the Professor’s Field of Interest
Professors are always happy to talk about the things that interest them, especially if it is obvious that you are intellectually curious about something that fascinates them. Do not feign interest – usually, it is pretty obvious when people do that. Instead, look for the things that actually mean something to you – it can even become a foundation of a research project you perform for this professor.
7. Thank the Professors for Their Time
Helping you may be the professors’ job, but you still have to thank them for it. Never forget to show how grateful you are for their assistance. Simply uttering a word of thanks after a conversation or following up a meeting with an email will go a long way towards establishing a proper working relationship.
8. Give the Professor Time to Respond
Most professors are extremely busy people who have to juggle dozens of responsibilities at any given moment. This means that you should not expect them to respond to you right away, especially if you contact them in the evening or at night. Give them at least 24 hours before contacting them again, or you will come off as pushy and annoying. If you regularly have to wait long for an answer, try contacting the professor in person – it will help you resolve the issue faster. Moreover, most professors tend to complain that students do not use their office hours nearly as much as they should.
Having a well-established and long-lasting relationship with a professor or professors can be of great help both during your stay in college and after graduation. Start working on these relationships early on, maintain them properly – and you will significantly increase your chances of achieving success in college and beyond.
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