Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jennie's Tip of the Week: How to talk to professors.

As the semester goes on, students often find more reasons that they need to speak with their professors. "How to talk to professors" is not a course offered at this University, nor in most high schools.  The way in which students interact with their professors often determines how the professor views that student, meaning it is very important to make a good first impression.  The best idea, whether emailing a professor or speaking with him/her in person is to keep a formal and respectful tone.  Here are a few tips for emailing a professor versus talking to a professor in person:

Email: Always address your professor as "Professor", or "Doctor" if applicable, when beginning your email.  In the first line make sure you introduce yourself and tell the professor which class of his/hers you are in.  Professors teach hundreds of students each semester and it is extremely difficult to keep track of everyone.  For the content, use your best judgement.  Avoid slang or abbreviations that most college students use in everyday life.  When ending your email sign it with "Sincerely" and then your name.  If the professor emails back in a more casual tone, that is your cue to relax a bit, but it's definitely best to start off formal.

In Person: Introduce yourself.  Address him/her as "Professor" like you would in an email.  Once again, be respectful and relatively formal in the way you talk to your professor.  Professors appreciate when students talk to them like adults, not students.  Remember that they are there to teach you and help you, but they are not your peers.

The most important thing to remember when talking to professors is that they generally want to help you and are happy to answer questions.  Go up to them after class, go to their office hours, and never stop yourself from asking a clarifying question.  If you are polite, sincere, and clear you should not have a problem!

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