I was there once, too – a college student sardined in a sea of learners. Squished into those tiny seats with miniature swivel desks, trying to carve out enough space to take notes, and listening in on the hot gossip from the dudes and dudettes rolling into class late.
Regardless of the environment or circumstances, I was determined to get the most of my education. Now, I’m in no way claiming to be an expert on classroom success, but from my own experience, I’ve realized that having a good relationship with the professor can enhance your education in profound ways.
Take a look at these five ways to impress your professor:
1. Never miss a class!
Okay, this one is kind of a given. Attending class should always be your priority. I appreciate my beauty sleep just like any other person and yes, maybe I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish a paper I should have started weeks ago, but I got myself to every class, lab, review session, and extra credit opportunity. Cool kids go to class. Period. Trust me, your professor notices when you are not there. So if you need an extension on your lab write up and your teacher knows you’ve been missing class, are they really going to give you that extra few days? Probably not.
2. Engage in Class Discussions
So you’ve made it to class after surprising yourself on how fast you can slip on your sweatpants and hoodie. Physically being there is a great start, but let’s take things a step further and engage in class discussions. Listening to a discussion is not as meaningful, and not as easy to remember, as being involved in a discussion. Asking questions or making a comment in a class of strangers can be intimidating – I get it. But trust me, if you push yourself to speak up more often in class, you’ll find it much more enjoyable (and you'll remember more, too!)
3. Bring News to Class
Congrats! You’re speaking up in class now! Fantastic. Bueno. #winning. Now, have you ever considered bringing news to class? Most professors you encounter like staying up-to-date with trends in their field, shocking news, and random happenings in the community. Being able to connect the dots between what you learn in the classroom and what’s going on in the world will enhance your college experience ten-fold. Your professor will appreciate your enthusiasm, and news articles will be a great source for paper topics later!
4. Attend Office Hours
Did you know that professors are people too? Strange to think about, I know. But you’d be surprised at how normal, approachable and – do I dare say it, cool – your professors are outside of the classroom. Bring that news article with you to their office hours to follow up on ideas presented during class. Take a few minutes to ask about upcoming assignments, bounce ideas off of your professor, or talk to them about going to grad school. Your professors are valuable resources to you – so why not take advantage of time they’ve specifically set aside each week to talk to their students?
5. Email Etiquette
Just so we’re clear, emails are not text messages. I am a millennial and proud to have grown up in such a tech-savvy era. With that said, I’m surprised to see how many students are unaware of proper email etiquette. Not all technologies are the same – and not all methods of communication are interchangeable. When emailing a professor be sure to maintain correct grammar and spelling, be specific in your subject line, and use your university email. Be frank, be respectful, and be appreciative of your professor’s time. For more tips on email etiquette, check out U.S. News and World Report’s guidelines on how to appropriately email your professors. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for spending that extra half of a second to spell out full words.