If you are feeling nervous about meeting your professors, don't worry because you're not alone. Hollywood depicts your classic professor as an intimidating individual, who cares more about books than students, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
University professors are very diverse in their backgrounds, but they all share one thing: they want to see you succeed.
How can you make use of these resources? Here are three helpful tips:
1. Office hours are a gold mine
At the start of the semester—and in course outlines—professors list their office hours; times during the week when you can walk into their office (online or in-person) to ask questions about course material. Even in virtual classrooms, this resource is underutilized.
Professors will do their best to address your concerns, and will sometimes drop hints about what to expect on midterms and exams (after all, they are the ones creating them).
Pro tip: While studying, make a list of questions and things you didn’t understand, and bring this to office hours. Having your list of questions prepared ahead of time is a more effective use of both of your time.
2. Ask lots of questions during lectures/ tutorials
This tip is also applicable for both in-person and online classes. The material is new for everyone (except the professor of course), and at times what seems obvious to them has students scrambling to Google.
Don’t hesitate to ask a professor to repeat or clarify something, chances are other students have the same questions as you but are too scared to ask. The end of each lecture is unofficially assigned as a question period; the material is fresh in your mind and so are any questions that may have come up.
The university has many other great academic resources designed to help you conquer material and succeed.
Pro tip: Try to ask thoughtful questions that show you were actively listening to the lecture.
3. Ask for research opportunities
University professors have a vast professional network. If you want to pursue an independent research project in your early undergrad years or during the summer, a professor can be an invaluable resource for finding a golden opportunity that looks great on a resume.
They may be or know someone who is looking to take on a student, which will be a great experience for you. You can find out the research interests of various professors under their respective faculties.
Pro tip: Make sure you go into an area of research that actually interests you, instead of doing research for research's sake.
Meeting your professors can seem intimidating at first, and this can lead you to avoid office hours and speaking to them altogether. But, developing relationships with your professors is one of the best ways to get the most out of your university experience.
They have a wealth of knowledge that they are eager to share with you, and having connections can be a great way to open doors and create possibilities!
Don't be scared to go in just to say "hi" and introduce yourself if you don't have any specific questions; professors are more than happy to chat and meet their students.
Blog written by: Patrick Pillainayagam
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