Written by Bobbie Shrum, Account Executive for the SOJC Portfolio Reviews account team.
Prior to beginning my freshman year, nearly all of my friends and family members shared advice with me about to how to navigate college. I learned about the importance of washing your laundry often and monitoring your meal points diligently but, surprisingly, the piece of advice I received most frequently was related to my academic life: build strong relationships with my professors.
Each time that I was told about the importance of getting to know my professors, I wanted to roll my eyes. It seemed so simple and obvious; of course, this was something I should do. However, being a freshman is hard and it is easy to become overwhelmed with other facets of campus life and completely forget this advice. Despite being completely confident that I would get to know all of my teachers, this truly did not start to occur for me until my junior year.
As a senior, I love getting to know each of my teachers. From networking opportunities to professional references, the benefits of doing so have been endless. I’ve learned tips and tricks as I’ve created these relationships, and have shared them below.
- Go to Office Hours:
As a freshman, I was completely terrified of going to office hours. I found my professors intimidating, and chose to navigate each term without having my questions answered. I don’t recommend this; professors are always willing to provide clarification.
However, my biggest fear when I went to office hours was that I wouldn’t have anything to talk about. I found it helpful to come up with a list of questions to ask beforehand, and hope that the conversation would flow naturally from that point. If I couldn’t think of a question to ask, but I truly wanted to get to know this professor, I would ask a question that I already knew the answer to
- Stay After Class:
While you should already be actively participating in class discussion, staying after class is sometimes the best way to have a conversation with your professor about the material. Class discussions can move quickly and it can often be difficult to express each of your thoughts on the subject. If you stay just five minutes after lecture ends, you get to have a one on one discussion with your professor. Here you can really articulate your opinions, and it demonstrates a high-level of interest in the material. Professors love when students are interested in the material they are presenting.
- Check-In After the Term Is Over:
This step is key to cultivating strong relationships. Trying to maintain a relationship with your professor after the term is over truly shows them how much you want to foster a relationship with them, and aren’t speaking to them for purposes related to the class. You can ask this professor about their background and career advice, but you need to make an effort to continue the relationship.
Building strong relationships with your professor is a lot easier than it sounds! Professors are a great resource for when you begin your post-grad job search, and they really enjoy getting to know their students. Taking the first step can seem scary, but it is worth it!
Bobbie Shrum currently serves as an Account Executive for the Public Relations Portfolio Reviews, the capstone requirement for public relations students. Bobbie will be graduating this June and hopefully relocating to New York to work within the consumer sector.