June 23, 2011
Real Life College Student Blog: Getting to Know Your College Professors
Today’s edition of the Real Life College Student blog is by Utah college student, Zachary Stickney, from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Zach entered the college world through the Upward-Bound pre-college program and is currently a senior studying Political Science. For an in-depth description of Zach’s admirable transition from high school to college and his college experience, check out this blog from WSU, “Once-Struggling High School Student Excelling in College.” Today, Zachary continues his series of blogs on college best practices for new students of higher education with “Getting to Know Your College Professors.” For more great articles written by Utah college students for college students, check out the Real Life College Student Blog Archive.
Throughout your life, creating and maintaining positive relationships will be a huge key to your success. And I don’t mean this in the sense that finding a sugar daddy/momma to support you financially is the only way to be successful (…though I’m not entirely ruling it out either). Instead, I simply mean that building bridges between yourself and a variety of people from all walks of life is going to make your life a lot easier.
In the context of college, this means you’re going to have to try and forge strong relationships with professors and staff at your school. This can be hard sometimes, especially considering that oftentimes there’s a huge generation gap between you and your professor, and, if the class isn’t in your major, possibly a significant interests gap. But if you work at it, I promise the benefits will far outweigh the cost in time and effort that you’ll spend.
Why Should I Get to Know My Professors?
Most professors teach hundreds, if not thousands of students every year. The vast majority of these students go to class, listen to the lecture, and go home. This is the lowest possible level of interaction. The professor never learns the names and faces of those people – they merely become a line of text in a grade book. Don’t be one of these people! Professors are impressed by students who show a genuine interest in the subject matter, even if the class in question isn’t in their particular area of study. Professors who see that you’re willing to go the extra mile will be much more willing to go the extra mile for you.
So, how do you go the extra mile?
Introducing yourself to a professor early on is a great way to start. Immediately, you separate yourself from the mold, and your professor will begin to get to know who you are beyond a line of text on a sheet. Next, being attentive in class, sitting in the front row, and asking relevant questions from class material and text readings will show that you’re on top of things. Asking questions or speaking for a few minutes with the professor after class or during their office hours is also a great way to get some face time. Lastly, if the professor is the head of or is involved with a particular club or organization on campus, learn about that group and join it if it mirrors your interests. You don’t want to be a “suck-up,” but when you share interests, go for it!
Other People to Know:
Department Secretaries: Department secretaries are the all-too-often overlooked administrative messiahs of colleges and universities. They run the day-to-day operations of each department and have strong connections with basically everyone that has anything to do with their specific area of study. Secretaries know all of this by heart. As such, they should hold a special place in yours.
Student Services Staff: Student services, which include tutoring, counseling, scholarship and financial aid help, etc. are extremely useful in creating a strong base of financial, mental, and emotional security to build your college career on. Don’t neglect these needs and don’t ignore help if it’s available.
There are many other people to know of course, and every person you meet on campus has a story and something they can help you with. The key here is simply to be willing to meet new people and spend quality time getting to know them. Don’t sink your own “relation-ship” – get out, meet people and have an awesome college experience!
If you have any questions or comments for Zachary, please leave them in the comment box below!
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