The Passing Grade: A Guide to Interacting with Your Professors

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By Nicole Eisenberg > Freshman > University of Maryland

It is a common misconception that all professors are out to get us, that they sleep better at night when at least fifty percent of their classes are failing, and that they enjoy referring to us by the colored shirt that we are wearing.  Professors really do teach because they care and because they want us to succeed!  Sometimes, it may seem as if they are giving you the stink eye, but I promise that if you follow these few simple steps, your professors will greet you with a smile when you walk in the room!      

1)    Do not be late.  Being late is a sign of disrespect for your professor; it is a way of saying that he or she is not important enough for you to wake up to your alarm the first (or second or third) time.  The easiest way to make a good impression is to be on time.  I was once told that being late is to be late, being on time is to be late, and being early is to be on time.  Therefore, if you are sliding into your seat right as the lights are being turned down, you will still be considered late.  All you have to do is leave an extra five minutes, and that will show your professors that you care too.

2)     Choose a seat towards the front of the room.  Not only will it help you focus more, but sitting in the first few rows of the room will tell your professor that you want to be engaged in the topic of study.  It will also enable you to interact in class discussion and have your questions answered.

3)    Go introduce yourself.  I realize that the semester has already begun, so if you have not already introduced yourself to all of your professors, take a few minutes to go say hello after your next lecture.  Why would you settle for a number when you can be a name?  Each person is different, so many professors may not remember your name after only one encounter, but they will now remember your face as you sit enthralled during discussions.  Others, however, will remember your name for the rest of the semester and beyond.  (Need recommendations anyone?!)

4)    Talk to them.  After all, professors are people too!  It can be pretty lonely standing up behind a podium with four hundred students staring at you like you are an alien, so make them feel comfortable in their own classrooms.   Ask them how their weekends were, make small talk, and discuss the weather, or ask them about a question you have on the material.  Dr. Hugh Turner, Ph.D., a professor in the Robert H. School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park also explains that he “enjoy[s] office meetings and encourage[s] current and past students to visit “just to say hello” when the opportunity is there for them.”  Email is also a great tool to use to talk to your professors because you will often get a quick response, and they can still make the connection that you are trying to succeed in their classes.

See!  It is actually a lot easier to get on your professors’ “good lists” than it is to be put on their list of “destined for ‘F’s”.  Just make that extra little effort, and your GPA should be sitting pretty—as long as you put in the required time and work!

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College Magazine Staff

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