How To Become Friends With Your Prof
Professors — when we’re kids we often imagine them as wrinkly old people who hold the wisdom of the world at their fingertips and puff cigars while reading something with a quizzical brow. However, professors usually don’t fit into that stereotype and are often actually cool people (CRAZY, RIGHT?).
Throughout my three years at university, I’ve attempted to connect with my professors; I’ve made an effort to get them to know me as the person that I am and not just a faceless and nameless robot who hands in assignments. It’s worked out pretty well so far, which is why I’m going to suggest that you might want to get to know your profs too– and maybe they’ll even become your new older-wiser “PFF” (prof friend forever). They’ll tell you crazy stories about when they studied bananas in Costa Rica or about the time they crashed a helicopter while banding swans.
Aside from the stories, maybe they’ll end up writing you a killer reference letter or supervising your future studies. You’ll learn more during your courses and begin to care about what you’re learning when you see the person behind the lecturer.
So, here is your step by step guide to becoming friends with your professor:
Step One: Introduce yourself
This seems like a small gesture but when there are 50–200 other students in the room, introducing yourself can go a long way. Before or after your first class of the semester, just say “Hi. My name is ______________, it’s nice to meet you”. (Trust me, it’s pretty easy)
Step Two: Sit in the same place
If there isn’t a seating plan, try and be consistent with where you sit. (Preferably near the front.)
After a few classes, they’ll start to remember your face and name.
Step Three: Ask questions and participate in discussions
While this can be extremely hard, especially when there are so many students in your class, try to be involved and engaged during lectures.
If you’re uncomfortable or anxious about asking a question during class, pulling them aside after the lecture is the next best option. It shows your professor that you care about your learning (which, yes, they like).
Step Four: Put your phone and laptop away
Studies show that you’re way better off taking hand written notes (yes, you can groan at me). According to research out of Princeton University, typing notes on a laptop results in “shallower processing” and makes you think you can multi-task (which you probably can’t).
As much as we want to believe that our professors don’t see us scrolling through Facebook during class — they know exactly what we’re up to when our laptops/tablets/phones are out. They are all-seeing (even when you think you’re being sneaky).
Your professor will notice when you are actually paying attention and they will appreciate it. Also, don’t be the jerk who texts consistently through a lecture, that’s just not cool and you might as well not go to class.
Step Five: Hand things in on time
It’s not that hard. Budget your time and use it effectively. Professors appreciate students who can stick to deadlines.
That being said, if you’re going through a rough time, don’t be afraid to ask for an extension (just make sure it’s not the day before it’s due — that’s discourteous and they are less likely to work with your situation).
Step Six: Say hello
If you see your professor on campus or elsewhere, don’t run in the other direction in fear — say “hello” and ask them how they’re doing! They’re people too.
Step Seven: Ask them about their research
Many professors are not just teaching courses — they are working on academic research and projects of their own. It’s not a bad idea to see what they do for their research. Doing so can often lead to some interesting conversations. Plus, professors will appreciate your inquiry and probably be excited to tell you about it. Keep in mind their research could inspire your own, so it’s never a bad idea.
Warning: Sometimes they are very passionate and will keep you for hours once they get started. So if you asked, be prepared to listen. And only ask if you’re actually interested. It’s in the best interest of their time and yours.
Step Eight: Email them
Okay, yes, you might feel like a teacher’s pet when doing this, however, it’s all good. Whenever I find articles or videos related to course material, I send it to my professor. Usually, your professor will love this because it shows you’re engaging with your learning and that you care.
Also, they might even use it as a future resource.
Step Nine: Compliment them
Did you enjoy a particular lecture or activity? Tell them!!! Everyone loves to have their ego stroked. Professors have feelings too.