They’re the people you came to college for… No, not your friends or your parents or your significant other. Your professors! Over the next few weeks (and I’m sure you’ve heard it already), you’re going to hear endless reminders to get to know your professors and advice on how to stand out in the classroom (in a good way) so they’ll recognize you. And I won’t go on beating a dead horse, but make sure you have a good relationship with your profs. Or at least try. (There, I’ll drop it now.)
A lot of people might tell you that on of the biggest reasons college is a lot different than high school is that the professors don’t care about your success as much, and that they won’t go out of their way to help you. Don’t freak out, though. That’s only half-true. Your profs won’t go out of their way to save your grade if you don’t show up to class—or worse, sleep through it. But they make themselves available, and if you make an effort to seek help, you’ll definitely find it.
On the first day of classes, you’ll get all your syllabi and spend the whole time going over those papers (thus the first day being affectionately referred to as Syllabus Day), which will outline the professor’s plans and expectations for the semester. The syllabus will also list the professor’s office location, office hours, and their email. THIS IS IMPORTANT. One of my professors even gave out his cell phone number in case we had any particularly pressing questions or requests…this isn’t the norm, but it goes to show how willing the professors are to help.
[SIDEBAR: Another dead horse that will be beaten is that poor old go-to-office-hours horse. Again, obey.]
So far, I’ve contacted most of my professors via email and all of them have replied in a timely and rather helpful fashion. My ENG 201 professor found out that I have other classes during all of his office hours and let me know that he’s always willing to make appointments outside of the listed hours if I ever need to discuss the material outside of class. All of my other professors have also mentioned that they’re willing to make appointments if their office hours don’t work for us.
If you have a question, ask. ASK ASK ASK. This is where most of those emails came from. Even if it’s a dumb question or something you think is unimportant or just a question about the website or technology the course requires, ask. Or, if you’re all set but you still want to talk to the prof, make up a question, even if you already know the answer. (Note: any question or comment should be relevant; your goal is to make a good impression.) It gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself and lets him or her know you care. I hung around after World Civ today just to ask for clarification on when certain readings should be completed by. It was a simple question but it was a baby step towards forming a helpful relationship with my professor.
So start up with baby steps and well, we’ll see how things go from there.
Lots of love, Maggie