Why it’s important to talk to your professors.

Why it’s important to talk to your professors.

For some people, the thought of raising your hand and speaking in class is enough to make you want to crawl under table, let alone speaking with a professor after class or in their office. But talking with your professors isn’t just polite, it can be crucial to your success as a student. Some Reynolds faculty members have a few reasons why talking to your professors matters.

They can help with assignments, projects, or general questions.

Reynolds School Instructor Vanessa Vancour helping a student on a computer.

This may seem obvious, but your professors are experts in what they teach. They know what they’re talking about. If you’re struggling in the class, meeting up during their office hours, or even sending them an email, not only gets you the help you need to pass that class, but also lets your professors know that you’re trying.

“If you messed up on a test and didn’t ask your professor what could have been done… pride can get in the way of real learning,” said Professor Paul Mitchell.

Associate Dean Donica Mensing says getting a one-on-one conversation tailored to your interests can teach you more than a class could.

They can connect you to jobs, scholarships, and plenty of other opportunities.

 

If a professor barely knows your name, then when opportunities come up, they’re not going to know to recommend you.

Similarly, when you want those letters of recommendation, it’s going to be hard for them to think of anything for them to write about. When you make connections with faculty outside of the classroom, you are likely to get a stronger recommendation, or be thought of first when scholarship or other opportunities arise.

Connect with professors and faculty on Linkedin, and reach out for professional advice. Ask them to endorse you for skills.

They can help you get resources

Even outside the classroom, professors and faculty can let you know about campus resources to help with food insecurity, harassment issues, or counseling.

Whatever qualms you may have about meeting a professor outside of class, it’s important to remember that they are here to help you.

We wouldn’t be faculty if we hated students,” Alison Gaulden reminds students. “There is likely a clash of styles, or faculty see potential and want to push you through your comfort zone.”

Mensing says many aspects of the educational environment are impersonal and treated like an economic transaction rather than a personal relationship.

“But learning really is a social activity and it takes connection with other people to help us be fully engaged in what we are learning,” said Mensing. “The more you get to know your professors, the more engaged you will be with them and their classes and subjects and vice versa.”

College is an incredible time of a person’s life. Making solid connections with your professors now can reap plenty of benefits down the road. College isn’t just about the degree, it’s about the experience. Talking to your professors is just one easy way to make that experience a meaningful one.

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