How to Get to Know Your Professors

Are you planning on going to a college that has very large lectures for a majority of their classes? Students are often told, “Get to know your professors!” while at school. It can open a lot of doors when done right – but how can you possibly get to know them if you have over 200 students in a single class? The answer: be polite, respectful, engaging, and outgoing.

A professor talking to a student in their office.

Flickr user CAFNR

1. Be Polite and Respectful

Large or small class size, the best thing you can do when getting to know your professors is always to be polite and respectful. Always treat them (and other students) with kindness.

If a professor has the title “Dr.” make sure to use it. If they prefer to be called by their first name, “professor,” or Mr./Mrs. Smith, make sure to honor that.

And this goes for outside the classroom, too. Any correspondence you have, over a school program, during office hours, or over email, remember to be polite. It’s also recommended that you don’t make excuses! Professors have heard them all and you’d likely hurt your chances of making a good impression.

2. Engage In Class

It’s definitely recommended that you engage with the class, the content before you, and your professor! Raise your hands with serious questions and if your professor has a question for the class, raiser your hand if you know the answer. This goes with small or large classes, too. However, your professor will definitely notice you in a large class if you’re going out of your way to stay engaged during the course.

Balance is necessary here as you don’t want to become a pest either. You don’t want to be the sole person always answering the teacher’s questions or rushing to answer without raising your hand first. And questions are great, but if you’re regularly speaking over others, interrupting class, or bugging the professor with unnecessary comments or questions, it will definitely have the opposite effect you’re looking for. This really goes back to being polite and respectful.

3. Attend Office Hours

One of the best ways to get noticed by your professor and get to know them is by attending office hours. Even if you don’t need help, you can go to these hours and get further insight on the coursework. As with “engaging in class,” you will also need to find balance though. You don’t want to be there every day, and you don’t want to be wasting their time when they have other work to do.

But going to their office during office hours can be a great opportunity to ask further questions about the content, ask for clarification, or get assistance if you need it. This may open the door to other opportunities including letters of recommendation, connections in your field, or a request to assist the professor with research.

Getting to know your professor in large lecture classes can definitely be a challenge. Some professors also aren’t looking to get to know their students, so it’s okay if these tips don’t work. Here are some more do’s and don’ts with your college professors. There will always be other teachers for you to get to know!


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