An important step in getting comfortable on campus, and being successful in your classes, is getting to know your professors. Doing so can lead to better learning and even undergraduate research opportunities. Here are three tips to help you.
The most important step is actually going. It may seem trivial to mention, but working up the courage to go can be the hardest step. Being on a big campus is daunting, and the prospect of actually going to talk to the professors is just downright frightening. Finding some time to go see your professors, even if it’s just a five-minute chat, can go a long way. After the first meeting, and the two of you start to get to know each other, it only gets easier from there.
2. Get to know your professor before getting to know them.
Look them up, perhaps through a course website or the website for the department they teach in. Do some digging, find out what they do, and what they’re about. If the professor is involved in research that you’re interested in, read up on some of their work in that field. If you’re going to the professor specifically to talk about this research, being well-versed on the work that the professor does can go a long way; bring some rather specific questions to the table to show that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested.
3. Ask away!
Know that the professors are passionate about their field. They’re more than happy to help you with any questions you might have and they truly want to see you succeed in their class. Be confident in any and all questions you might have. Your professors are patient and understanding. After all they were all undergraduates themselves once! Sometimes it can be hard to understand everything in one lecture, so professors set up office hours and encourage emailing to set up appointments. They want students to come by with anything they’re not clear on or that’s confusing them, and will explain the concepts personally. Again, the professors want you to understand the material and to do well, and they are there to facilitate that process.