Developing strong communication skills with your professors is an essential ability for every student. Whether you require clarification on an assignment, wish to discuss your academic progress or seek guidance on your career goals, learning how to properly communicate with your professors can greatly better your academic experience.
It might be a little scary trying to reach out for the first time, but that's okay. I've got some tips to help make contacting your professors a little easier.
Benefits of talking to your professors
There are a lot of things you can talk to your professors about which can greatly enhance not only your experience in a specific class but your university experience as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of getting to know your professors better.
Every professor has been in your shoes before—they went through school, wrote papers and took exams just like you. This means that when you're feeling a little lost, your professors may have some seasoned advice to help you out.
Not only can they provide advice about managing your current workload, but they can also provide guidance about bigger more scary things, like what your post-graduation plans are.
Clarification and support
University can have you feeling busy, and there might come a day when you find yourself swamped with assignments and confused. If this happens it's important to know that your professors are there to help. They want you to succeed and will do what they can to help you out.
Whether they help you better understand course content, review your assignment to identify the gaps or help you work through a problem, you’re professors are a resource to you. I know it sounds a little scary asking for help, but we all can benefit from a helping hand now and then. There’s no shame in reaching out!
References and research opportunities
When applying for graduate school or career positions, university professors hold great power with their reference letters. But you want to make sure they have more to say about you than what letter grade you accomplished in their course. Getting to know your professor allows them to discuss your personality, work ethic and specific skills when they’re writing these reference letters. This may help you get a job and expand your professional network.
How to contact your professors
At the start of each term, all of your professors will give you a syllabus, and in that document, you'll find the professor's and the teaching assistant's (TA) email addresses and what time they are available to respond to emails. Email isn’t the only way you can reach out; many professors have in-person and online office hours that you can attend.
When contacting your professor, it's always best to be formal and respectful, whether in person or via email. Remind them what course you are asking about, and come prepared (or clearly explain) your questions. It never hurts to bring the textbook or lecture slides to office hours if you have specific course content questions. If you’re asking about your assignment, bring your latest draft with you in case they want to review it
Connecting with your professors isn't as scary as it seems, it's a great way to better your university experience while also making meaningful personal and professional connections that can help in your future.
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