As students, we see professors nearly every day. Many students feel nervous and anxious about talking with professors or attending office hours. Having positive relationships with your professors can be quite beneficial. Students with positive relationships with their professors often have higher academic achievement and feel more connected to the school’s community. Furthermore, there may come a time when you need a letter of recommendation from your professor - having a positive relationship with them will help them write a strong letter for you.
So how do we get past the nervousness and talk to our professors? Here are some steps that can help you get started:
- Visit your professor during their office hours or make an appointment
- Use respectful communication, and honor relationship boundaries – you may become informal and friendly with your professors as you get to know them, but remember that it is a professional relationship
- Be prepared when you arrive
- If you have questions about the course material, try writing down your questions, so you’ll be sure to remember them.
- If you are having problems personally, academically, or otherwise, be honest with your professor. Your professor may be able to have some flexibility with you or be able to help you access resources.
- If you are going to dispute a grade, don’t make excuses, but come prepared to offer other solutions, like doing extra work, asking for help with the course material, or re-doing the assignment. Your professor may say “no,” but your commitment to learning may make a favorable impression on them, and you may end up getting some extra help.
- If you are looking for advice about how to exceed in a particular field, ask your professor with tips about how to do so.
- Your professors are regular people too, with interests, hobbies, and families. Ask your professor how they got interested in their field or to talk to you about their research.
And remember, many professors actually like talking with students and helping students enhance their learning. Check out more tips about talking to your professor here. Having a plan before you talk with your professor can ease some of the anxiety ahead of time, and the more you talk with your professors, the more comfortable you will become!