Regardless of where you’ll be starting school this fall, college is a time of firsts. If you’re moving into a dorm, it’s most likely the first time you’ve lived without your parents for an extended period of time. Even if you’re staying at home and commuting to campus, you’ll still be meeting new professors for the first time. Here are 10 tips for getting on your professors’ good sides:
A lot of upperclassmen have the attitude that nothing gets done on the first day anyway, so why bother to show up? In addition to receiving your class syllabus and other important handouts, many professors do start lecturing or assign reading at the first class meeting.
Unless your college has a dress code (some do) chances are good that you’ll see someone go to class in their pajamas before you graduate. Office costume parties or Halloween aside, you would never wear your PJs to work so do yourself a favor and don’t do it during college, either. You don’t want to be remembered as the girl who wore Hello Kitty slippers to her mid-term. Even if you have class at 8 AM and want to be ultra-comfy, have the decency to wear workout pants and a school T-shirt rather than your nightgown.
Sitting in the first row or two makes you more visible. This will help you pay better attention, see presentations more clearly, and let you give off the impression that you’re more interested than everyone else who is sitting behind you. And an added bonus? Professors often get to know the students who sit up front simply due to the closeness factor. If you ever need extra help or a recommendation, you want the prof to know who you are.
First-year students generally take several basic core classes like English and math, which means that professors teaching these courses will have a lot of new students. Go up front and say hello after the first day. You don’t need to have a 20 minute conversation—you probably can’t, since the professor may be on his way to another class or meeting—but you’ll let him know who you are and you will stick out in his mind next time.
Unless you have a dire emergency, show up on time. Sneaking into a crowded classroom fifteen minutes after the lecture starts is disturbing not only to the professor, but the other students. And if you did have a dire emergency, apologize for your tardiness after class with a brief explanation. There’s no need to tell an elaborate story. It will just make you sound like you’re lying.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but never, ever fall asleep during class. If it’s an early class, get enough sleep the night before. Take a nap before your afternoon class if you’re super exhausted. Not only will falling asleep in class make you embarrass yourself—um, drool or snoring?— you will look lazy and possibly even hungover. Not the impression you want to give.
Smartphones make it so easy to communicate without speaking. Resist the urge to text by keeping your phone in your backpack or pocket. If you have your laptop with you, take notes or look at the websites being discussed. Don’t browse Facebook or eBay. Unless you are supposed to be having group discussions or working with other students, don’t sit there and chitchat with your seat neighbors.
Things occasionally come up and you will occasionally get sick during college. If you are going to miss class, email your professor beforehand and ask for copies of lecture notes or handouts. If you know well in advance that you will be out due to a family obligation or something similar, tell the professor in advance also.
Your class syllabus will list assignments and due dates. Major projects and research papers do not magically appear out of nowhere, but far too many students start working on them the night before they are due. Be prepared, turn them in on time and do not ask for an extension. This is not high school, where “getting sick” and being absent on test day provided you with an extra day to study. Many professors will not even accept late work and most of those who do cut the grades drastically because the due was missed.
If you’re supposed to submit an assignment by email, email it. If you’re supposed to print something out and bring it to class physically, bring the printouts. Make sure you know the guidelines for everything and follow them.
If you have questions, raise your hand, ask, and don’t feel funny doing so. If you’re confused, you’re probably not the only one. Professors do not hold class discussions so they can be the only one talking. Speak and up offer your input.
Professors have scheduled office hours for a reason. You have a busy course schedule and so do they—teaching, doing research and attending department meetings, among other thigns. If you need something, stop by their office during their office hours. If you truly aren’t available during any of those times, email and request to set an appointment to meet with your professor. If she is able to accommodate, don’t forget to go to the arranged meeting.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.