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How To Talk To Your College Professors

Last updated October 17, 2020

One of the main differences between high school and college is the relationship you will have with your professors. We sat down with California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) assistant professor of Sociology, Joanna Perez, to get her top four tips for building a good relationship with your professors.

Acknowledge your professors are real people

We know it might be hard to accept, but your professors aren’t really all that scary. Sure, they have the power to dish out grades, but they also have interests and personalities and hearts.

“I think a lot of times students think professors are robots and there to perform a certain role,” Perez said. “Once students get to know the professor they actually realize ‘I’m more connected to them than I thought I was.’ It’s important for students to make it a point to get to know us as people.”

Take time to get to know your professors

Yes, your professors know things that just might help you with issues outside of the classroom.

“I’ve seen the difference between those students who have actually made it a point to come talk to me and get to know me and realize, ‘oh my goodness, we have similar backgrounds and I can ask you for help not just in regards to class,’” she shares.

Plan to attend office hours a few times throughout the semester

Every professor offers office hours for students to come in for additional help and support. It is a good idea to  attend office hours early in the semester to introduce yourself. While you’re there, be sure to get answers to any questions you might have about the syllabus, reading materials, or even the professor’s research and experience.

“Make a regular habit of going to office hours. Your professor will know as much about you as you want, said Perez. “But when it comes to grades, you want your professor to know who you are! Office hours are where students and professors create that relationship and bond. Honestly, the majority of the time I’m in here with students it’s about personal issues.”

Your professors can support you when you are struggling to keep up in class

When you’re not doing well in class, your first inclination might be to hide. Your professors want you to do the exact opposite! Schedule an appointment with your professor immediately if you’re  falling behind or struggling. This is something Assistant Professor Perez co-signs.

“One thing I know for sure happens [when students attend office hours] is they know they have support and that is essential to the success path however they may define that.”

She also encourages students to take responsibility for keeping their professors up to date with things happening in their life and what their needs are.

“Professors don’t know what’s going on with you unless you tell them. Meet with your professor to create an action plan so you stay on track,” she advised.  

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