Meet Your Professor, Your Best Study Buddy

By Rene Santana on September 11, 2019

I never had a bad one-on-one with a professor. It wasn’t because I was charismatic. I was awkward like everyone else, and I definitely struggled networking with strangers. After every initial meeting with a professor though, I legitimately had a new perspective on the professor’s class and teaching style. For online classes, I was fortunate enough to be close to the school to visit professors in the day to get to know them and understand their scope for the class. My standing with the professor improved every time I checked in, and so did my understanding of their content.

Image by Merio from Pixabay

Simply talking to the professor, though, will not improve your grades by default. Nor will it help you pass your classes. I’ve failed classes where I went to specifically talk to the professor. You can trust I did my best to stay afloat, but my success depended on me, not my professor. Despite failing those classes, I still succeeded. I learned how to gain the respect of my professors. I know respect doesn’t bump your grades up, but in the real world, respect will go farther than any evaluation or promotion. In a workplace setting, for example, I’ve easily connected with my managers to keep them updated and informed. If it wasn’t for those moments where I went to talk to the professor about my standing in their class, I would be terrible at doing so in work setting.

All too often, we feel like there’s a divide between us and the teacher. There isn’t. It’s an excuse we tell ourselves so that we don’t have to muster the courage and energy to meet with the professor. The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to make a connection. I strongly suggest meeting with them early on, maybe after two weeks, so that you give yourself enough content to talk about when sitting down with them. Remember, they’re people, just like you and me. If you come in expecting a grade change, stop and think about it. If your friend consistently bails on you every time you needed a ride, or was extremely late and left you stranded for hours, I can imagine you wouldn’t want to help them out when they need a ride, even if they’re dire need. Not that teachers need to be your friends but common courtesy does go along way.

Need some proof? Joelle Renstrom, in her how-to-talk-to-professors article, states:

When students articulate what helps them learn best, professors are more effective, and the class is a better experience for everyone. We have email and office hours for a reason — don’t be hesitant or apologetic for using them!

Looking back, I wasn’t a great student. I had good grades and handed in all my assignments (tried to at least). But at times, I was guilty of doing the exact minimum and my consequence was a lost chance to learn more. Even though I did try to talk with the professor, I still had to uphold my part as a student to push myself to learn more than what I could. Of course, I would go back to mend the lost moments, but I’ve found peace being better off learning my lesson the hard way.

CWU Graduate | Writer | Editor @WaldorfPress | Favors Tech, UX, and the Serial Comma.

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