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5 Best Ways to Get to Know Your Professor

Being on good terms with professors means you can freely ask for help on assignments or request a recommendation letter for jobs, scholarships or graduate school. If you're unsure how to become better acquainted with your professors, we have a few suggestions.

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how to talk to your professor

1. Attend Class and Be Engaged

Professors frown upon students missing class, and you don't want them to think you don't appreciate their time. Stay engaged during lectures or lab sessions - participate when asked to by the professor even if you think your answer or opinion is not the best. Most professors appreciate students' willingness to express themselves in class, and many value students who ask challenging questions. If you participate regularly, your professor is more likely to learn your name. When it comes time to submit grades, he or she may remember your commitment and class participation.

2. Use Small Talk Every Chance You Get

Most professors have certain areas on campus where they hang out, like their office, a department lounge, the library, an on-campus coffeehouse, or the food court. Find their favorite spots and start a short conversation every chance you get. You might ask education-related questions, such as what graduate school they attended or what topic they chose for their master's thesis or doctoral dissertation. Most professors will appreciate your interest in their educational backgrounds and may even offer tips on how to achieve your academic goals. Make sure you respect their space, and back off if they look too busy or uninterested in talking.

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3. Check Out Their Work

Most full-time, tenured professors write and publish articles in their field every year. Reading articles they've published recently, or seeing work they've shown if they're in a creative discipline, can help you better understand their academic priorities. This can be a particularly smart approach if you're interested in working with a specific professor for a thesis or graduate project.

4. Attend Office Hours

Stopping by during office hours is another way to gain familiarity with your professors. During this time, students are encouraged to stop by and discuss assignments or ask questions about class concepts. Some professors may even provide you with valuable information not normally given in class, such as available internships, assistantships, or departmental scholarships.

5. Join Associations and Attend Social Events

Most professors serve as advisors for certain organizations both on and off campus. Learn what associations your professors are part of and attend their hosted events. Ask your professor what the requirements are to join their association and get involved. In many cases, you'll be able to develop a rapport with your professor, allowing you to seek their guidance and mentoring in a relaxed setting.

Seriously, visit office hours at least once a semester so your professor can put a face to your name.

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