Thursday, February 13, 2014

Liz's Tip of the Week: Connecting with your Professors

     Add/Drop has ended and the real work of the semester is picking up pace. It's important to build connections with your professors. This process can seem intimidating at first, but as our advisor Greg Boisseau likes to say, "Professors put their pants on the same way that we do in the morning." The sentiment behind this phrase is that professors are real people, just like us, who at the end of the day truly want you to succeed.
     One of the best ways to succeed in a class is by building a relationship with your professors. In large classes, since it is nearly impossible for the professor to know every student's name in a class of 150+, it's extremely helpful for the professor to know your name and face. Having a better relationship with your professor will make you feel more comfortable asking for help when you need it. Additionally, professors can help you out later down the line when you need a recommendation letter, or a sponsor for an independent study. This post will include some helpful tips on ways to connect with your professors.

Talk to your Professor After Class:
     The few minutes after class are definitely not the best time to ask your professor to read your twenty-page long research paper, but these moments can be used to your advantage if you have small questions. Say a professor uses a vocabulary word that you need clarification on, the end of class is a good time to ask for help. Or if you need any clarification on the homework, a reading, or any other question that is best answered after class. Just remember that if these questions pop up in your head during a lecture, you're probably not the only one with that question! Always feel free to raise your hand and ask for clarification when needed.

E-mail your Professor:
     I know what you're probably thinking, "How am I supposed to e-mail them? Do I even have their e-mail address?" Do not fear! Most professors will include their e-mail at the top of the syllabus. If your syllabus is not readily available however, UMass's People Finder application will be your saving grace. You can find the application here, or in the top right-hand corner of the UMass homepage. You will see a box where you can type in your professor's first and last name and their e-mail address will pop up. This is also incredibly helpful when working on a group project, as you can find student e-mail addresses too.
   Every time you email your professors include your full name, your Student ID number, and the class you are in. Of course, each of us is one in a million, but sometimes we share a name with our peers, therefore including your ID number will make sure your professor knows exactly who he or she is speaking to.

Office Hours:
     One of the absolute best ways to get in touch with your professor is face-to-face, and you can do so during their designated office hours. Office hours vary based on each professor, and typically if these times do not work for you, professors will be willing to schedule an appointment with you outside of their office hours.
     Office hours are an opportunity to meet up with your professor to further discuss issues raised in class, have them look over an essay before it's due, or just to introduce yourself. As I said before, in a big class it is very hard to stand out, one of the ways to do so is to introduce yourself to your professor during their office hours. Most professors complain of how no one comes to their office hours, and how they wish they did. Stopping by to say hello and ask questions benefits both you, and the professor.

Follow these tips and you'll be on the road to success by creating better relationships with your professors

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