A guide to connecting with professors

September 26, 2012

Starting college can be a daunting process for students of any age. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or someone who has decided to go back to school in order to obtain more skills or get a better job, there are ways that people can ensure more success long-term at college.

In a recent article for the Chicago Tribune, Vince Dixon writes that one of the key ways to get started on the right foot is to establish a solid relationship with professors. While some students are hesitant to get in contact with instructors, in most cases they will be happy to give added guidance or answer specific questions.

Approach professors with questions
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Michigan State University senior Garrett Miller said that when he was a freshman he was afraid to approach his professor.

"I spent a lot of time trying to figure things out on my own," the political science and economics major told the source. As he gained confidence, he found that it was easier to get clearer insights by directly approaching instructors. "You should never feel that afraid about speaking to your professor."

Find the best way to contact a professor
There are certain things to think about, however, before reaching out to a professor. Dixon writes that some instructors prefer to be contacted by email, while others are more comfortable with meeting face-to-face. Many professors will notice students who take the initiative to gain better insight.

Another thing to be aware of is proper conduct while in the classroom. While many people are more connected than ever these days, with the ability to access social media platforms through smartphones, doing so during lectures is frowned upon. According to Miller, students need to "be prepared to engage in class."

Know where to look for help
Staying on task both inside and outside the classroom is especially important for those who rely on scholarships for college. In one example cited by International College Counselors CEO Mandee Heller Adler, students in New York can obtain grants for education from the New York State Scholarships for Academic Excellence program. She also suggests looking at resources online to find out if there are programs for which you qualify to make the financial burden less severe.

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