As if syllabus week isn’t stressful enough, getting a new professor to like you or even know your name in a lecture hall full of 200 students makes any student uneasy. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
We talked to college professors and learned how students stand out to them during the first week of school.
1. Be Prepared
Professors hate to see a student walk into class with just a phone and a pen. While your professor may not notice you specifically in the sea of freshmen dawdling as they find seats in the lecture hall, a professor does notice the student who saunters in late without a backpack. Bring a notebook, laptop, pens, pencils and any materials your professor may have listed on his or her website or in an email, to class. “The students that I have most respected are those that try the hardest, even if it isn’t a topic they excel in, they ask a lot of questions and reach outside of the exact topics of the classroom,” Jack Richardson said, a biological anthropology teaching assistant at George Washington University. Even on the first day, make sure you come to class prepared.
2. Pick Your Seat Wisely
Just because your seat isn’t directly in your professor’s site line, he or she still notices you. You don’t need to sit in the center of the front row, but maybe pick a seat two or three rows back. That way, it gets easier to become engaged. Plus, sitting closer to the front makes it easier to listen and take better notes.
3. Come Ready To Learn
When people put themselves in a willing mindset to learn, they become far more likely to enjoy a subject, even if it’s not a class in the major they selected. “Often when we put ourselves in a willing mindset to learn we gain much more from our classes, even if it isn’t something we were expecting to enjoy,” Richardson said. In order to do so, you need to develop an open mind to the class. The more open students are to a subject, the more they take away from the class. Professors like to know their students benefit from their class in this sense.
4. Introduce Yourself
Professors often linger after class in case students approach them with questions that came up during the lecture. Take advantage of this time to head over and introduce yourself. In a sea of students, let the professor know your name so they can pair it to your face. Once the professor knows you, he or she starts to notice that you consistently attend class and ask questions. Set the tone for the semester by speaking up.
5. Show Interest
Some students have naturally less extroverted tendencies than others. Face your fear and raise your hand, or take a small step and email your professor saying hi or asking any questions you may have from class. “It’s the students that are consistently respectful and interested that make an impression,” Richardson said. It makes professors happy to hear students talk about and express curiosity in the class. Don’t fear to ask questions, going to office hours and, most importantly, taking notes!
6. Value Your Education
Professors like to see students who understand the value of the large-scale themes and skills taught in a course and why professors teach it. They feel far more inclined to like a student who cares about the class. Did something in the class interest you? Would you like to ask about the material not covered in class? Your education doesn’t stop once you leave the lecture hall; take advantage of the information your professor teaches you.
7. Explain Your Absences
Take care of this one before it evolves into a bigger problem than necessary. Most syllabi ask that students tell their professors within the first week if they need to miss class due to trips, holidays, etc. Being proactive saves your professor some work, and in your favor, lets him or her learn your name during the first week of classes.
8. Be Respectful
You gain the most from the professors that you respect. Even if you do not excel in the class, your professor wants to see you asking questions and expressing interest. While respect does not factor into your average, students who engage and try their hardest often end up with better grades. Avoid using your class time scrolling through your Instagram feed and instead opt to take copious notes.
9. Go to Office Hours
How many times have you heard a professor say they waited in their office for two hours and not a single student showed up? Office hours exist so you can walk right in and ask your teacher questions about a topic discussed in class, or even introduce yourself without other students around. Remember: Professors become great resources for future letters of recommendation, job openings and tutoring. This ties into number 7: Take advantage of your education–you pay a hefty fee for it!
10. Do your work!
On the off chance you get assigned work during the first week of school, start the semester off right and get it done! Even hand it in early, if your schedule allows. Set the tone for the semester and start off by doing your readings and assignments. Professors got a degree once, too. They know when students don’t finish their assignments, even if they don’t always check homework.