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How to Get Along with Your Professors
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Think back to your favorite high school teacher for a minute. Maybe they did cool projects like faux Spartan training. Maybe they showed clips of Mel Brooks’ films to understand a concept in a new and funny way. Maybe they let you go get coffee during class. Maybe they didn’t necessarily do anything; maybe they were just there when you needed them.
When you think of a college professor, the image may be one of intimidation; Maybe an older gentleman with a patchy tweed suit, carrying a brief case and smoking a pipe? I am here to tell you as an older student that professors are anything but intimidating. Professors are like any other teacher. They are here at a university because they love school, they love people and they want to pass on their knowledge. Here are some tips on being a college level’s teacher’s pet, minus the ass kissing.
I know CU brags about 87 percent of their classes being 50 people or fewer, but some of those general education requirements are huge, particularly for popular majors like psychology. Most freshmen walk into at least one class that may have up to 300 people in their lecture. It may seem like the professor is never going to know who you are.
So take action.
Yes, it can be scary as hell, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of meeting your professor like meeting your boss at work. You want your boss to know who you are so that they notice what a hard worker you are. Even in a 300-person lecture, professors know who takes their class seriously and who doesn’t. They’re paid to know that. So after your first or second lecture, go up to your professor, offer your hand, and tell them your name. Ask questions. This is not schmoozing, but rather this is engaging. Professors love students who want to engage.
Speak up in class
In my first semester of college, I took a class about race and ethnicity. My lecture was exactly 243 people on a good day. One would think that a class about such a hot-button topic would be a screaming match, but only ten or fifteen people spoke up. That professor knew all of us by name within the first two weeks. Be one of those fifteen people. Raise your hand. Ask questions. Voice your opinion, because the professor wants to hear it; our opinions are valuable.
Let’s say you’re a little on the shy side, or speaking up in a lecture hall the size of your entire high school is freaking you out. You are not hopeless. Write the professor an email or go to their office hours. Talking with your professor outside of class will ensure that they know you are interested in what they have to say and that you have something to say back.
Go to class
Yeah, I know you hear it all the time. People say it for a reason. Not only is it the best way to pass your classes and graduate, but professors also know who comes to class and who doesn’t. Professors are people too, and they have made it their job to teach their passions. They want you teach you and are excited to do so.
If you don’t go to class, the professors are not going to chase after you. They aren’t going to call your parents. This doesn’t mean that they don’t care. They are treating you like adults who can manage themselves. Go to class.
One last thing…
If you end up with a really challenging professor, maybe they speak in a monotone or they’re kind of flakey, then do what you have to do to pass. If you feel like you can talk to them about the problem, then address it with them directly. If not, then attend class. Take the tests. If it’s a big lecture and you have a TA, make friends with your TA. They can see you through.
Some of the perks of being a teacher’s pet include getting real help on your essays when you’re completely stuck, learning more about something that interests you from someone who has made their career out of it, and learning how to interact with someone who is older and wiser than you. Honestly, good advice from people who want to see you succeed? What could be better?
Now go to class.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Hannah Morrison at Hannah.email@example.com.