How to Build a Solid Relationship with Your College Tutor?
Building Optimal Relationships with Your Professors in College
On the one hand, your success in college should be solely dependent on your performance as a student. On the other hand, it would be rather naïve to believe that the attitude of your professors towards you does not come into play here at all. Being on good terms with them is, at the very least, a nice bonus. At most, it can play a crucial role. Even if we leave your college performance alone for a moment, establishing connections with our professors can be quite useful in the future, when you enter the job market. Many professors can give you valuable advice related to your future career and recommend you to their friends and acquaintances in relevant industries. By maintaining positive relationships with them, you lay a foundation for your future professional network – and the earlier you start doing it, the better.
So, how do you organize your effort in this direction for maximum results?
1. Find out about the Professor’s Teaching and Research
Knowing what activities any particular professor is involved with can certainly help you build a rapport with him/her. The best way to start is the college’s website, as most professors keep their CVs along with the lists of their publications and activities there. Make sure you know where their interests lie so that you can demonstrate your own passion for these subjects.
2. Do not Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you need help with your essay or paper, do not shy away from asking the faculty to show you the way. Contrary to what you may think, most professors will not be annoyed, especially if you make sure to ask intelligent questions. In fact, professors are usually happy to see someone who is truly interested in their discipline. So make sure you know what you are talking about and do not be afraid to approach them!
3. Visit the Professor during Office Hours
Office hours are the time when faculty members are available for students for individual consultations – in other words, there is nothing outlandish about asking your professor for a bit of his/her attention during these periods. You will get bonus points if you do not limit your attempts to getting a personal consultation to situations when your grades are in danger. Instead, show that you are genuinely interested in the professor’s subject. In other words, if you visit the professor at the beginning of the term and talk about what you want to learn will produce a much better impression than if you seek his/her attention just before the exams in an attempt to repair a desperate situation with your grades.
4. Do not Forget to Thank the Professor
Whenever your professor helps you in any way, make sure you thank him/her properly. It does not have to be anything excessive – a mere word of thanks or an email soon afterward is cheap enough for you in terms of time and effort but goes a long way towards producing a favorable impression.
Professors are busy people. While they are usually ready to help you when you need help, it does not mean that you are free to waste their time and attention. A professor will probably improve his/her impression of you if you ask him/her an interesting question pertaining to the subject he/she teaches. However, you will not earn yourself any points if you do any of the following:
- Use vague or misleading subject lines. The professor should immediately know what you are going to write about in your email the minute he/she glances at the subject line. If you write something like “Can you help me?”, he/she has no idea what you are talking about;
- You write long, rambling, and hard-to-navigate emails. The more time your professor wastes trying to make sense of it, the more annoyed he/she will get;
- You pester him/her with trivial issues. Do not ask your professor questions if you can find answers to them in some other way.
No matter how good you think your relationship with your professor is, some topics should be avoided. It may seem obvious, but you will be amazed how many students manage to ruin their academic lives simply because they do not watch their tongues. For example, it may not be a good idea to say something like “It is not my fault because I did not write this essay, it is all that guy I hire to do my essays for me”. Trying to pay the professor to get a better grade is another example of something you should better avoid.
7. Attend the Class
It does not matter how proactive you are while searching for input from your professor, if you fail to show up during his/her classes, it is unlikely to produce a very favorable impression. While many professors may not pay outward attention to how often you appear in class, do not let it mislead you: they do pay attention, and they remember who attends the class and who does not. The more classes you miss, the poorer will the professor’s opinion about you be.
Professors may vary dramatically in terms of how they like to be addressed. Some like it when students speak to them formally, using their full title (like Dr.). Some like to be addressed by their first names. Still, others prefer when students simply address them as “Professor”. Learn the preferable form of address early on and use it consistently. It is also a good idea to pay attention to how a professor introduces him/herself in class – it can serve as an indicator of how he/she prefers to be addressed by students.
Building a close, long-lasting and productive relationship with your professor can go a long way towards helping you build a successful career, so do not neglect it, even if right now it seems like a lot of work.