It can be really hard adjusting to college, especially freshman year. College professors know this, and taking steps to get to know your professors can help the process immensely. They are full of wisdom and experience; they have walked in your shoes, and you may even get a few tips on how to pass their class! Below are some good ways to start to get to know your professors, and be on your way to a successful college career.
1. Introduce yourself during the first few weeks.
As busy as the first couple weeks of the semester can be, do not be afraid to walk up to each of your professors after class one day and introduce yourself. A lot of students usually have the same idea, so you may want to wait for the line to die down. Go up to them when there is no one else waiting, maybe the second week of classes. Introduce yourself, and if they have time, engage them in a short conversation. Talk about your major, what you like about the class so far, or ask the professor about their research or what got them interested in the subject. Showing your appreciation and genuine interest will count in the long run.
2. Ask questions and participate during class.
Professors love participation. They do not enjoy standing at the front of the class lecturing to a bunch of zombies. They like questions and comments. Although, make sure what you say is well-intended and not meant to distract from the concepts or the teaching. After a while, faculty will start to recognize your face and name. Recognition is key to surviving the curve, or at least potentially being bumped to a higher grade. It may also allow you to more easily ask for letters of recommendation down the road.
3. Go to office hours.
Most professors do not see many students during office hours. It is usually the same students who come in to ask questions, and these students are usually the ones who end up with higher grades. Going to office hours not only helps with understanding concepts, but it shows the professor you have the initiative to get the grade you desire and that you want to succeed. Spending this time with your professors allows you to get to know them, and allows them to get to know you. Just like participating in class, this allows your professor to recognize you as a hard worker and a good student. This will only benefit you when it comes to grades and letters of recommendation.
4. If your professors are doing research, ask for opportunities to work in their lab(s).
Being a familiar face will make it easier to find positions in your professor’s lab. This can become a paid opportunity, and even one that will allow you to gain experience in your field of study. You will also be working alongside your professor and their research group, becoming a sort of co-worker and getting to know them even better.