Whether in person or via email talking to your professor is quintessential and part of student life.
If you don’t talk to your professors, you should really start. There are so many reasons why you should talk to your professor (in my opinion) :
- Don’t waste time struggling with class content and you can just ask them right away for clarifications.
- Extra information about the course that isn’t included in the syllabus.
- Get to know your Professor and great practice to talking to people with authority over you later in life.
- Feel more confident in your school environment.
- Establish a professional network and if they like you they might even write a letter of recommendation for you.
That being said, talking to your professor can be somewhat daunting and scary at times. Especially if your Professor doesn’t seem friendly, nice and open in class. I remember taking this math class back in community college and rehearsing what I would say to the Professor because I was so terrified of him. But I just reminded myself that this person has control over my grades, know much more than I do and I should just ask because this what they are paid for! Teachers are paid to help students. Don’t forget that.
I have over 4 years of experience talking to Professors so I compiled a list of how you should interact with them face to face and via email. Manners matter and it is important that you present yourself well to make a good long lasting impression.
- Make an appointment with professor via email. Look at the syllabus and see what time the office hours are and where the office is located so you can plan to leave early if necessary. If that time doesn’t suit you send an email and ask to make an appointment at a different time.
- Arrive to office hours 10 minutes before your actual meeting. Make sure you settle down a bit, think of all the questions you have before you enter. Some questions for example: Can you explain more about the midterm and final? Will we there be study guides? I tried working on this problem but I am stuck. Can you help me? What kind of careers can this major lead to? What can I do to better prepare myself outside of class? Should I just read the slides? Coming to office hours prepared with a question in mind demonstrates that you are not here to waste time and you respect your professor’s time. Once in a while (after meeting the professor more than once) I come into office hours and chat to my professors about careers, goals and advice about life. But I recommend doing this once you establish rapport and show that you treat office hours seriously and show up on time.
- Treat the professor with respect. Listen to him and her, be patient and do not interrupt when they are speaking. If you see another student waiting for the professor outside be mindful to the length of your conversation so the other student doesn’t have to wait long. Even if you made an appointment, don’t be selfish. The professor doesn’t teach only one class! They have multiple classes and hundreds of students.
Communicating via email:
- If the issue needs to be discussed face to face mention this in email and set up where to meet, time and date.
- Include topic in subject line. VERY IMPORTANT. Professors have if not more than 50 emails per day. From what my previous professor said, she only looked at the subject line and began to prioritize reading the ones that were more urgent. I recommend two things on the subject line if you are not sure the following example might help: Ha, Catherine, CMST Studies, Homework Inquiry OR Ha, Catherine, CMST Studies, Office Hours . This makes it easier for the professor to navigate which emails to read first.
- DO NOT USE COLORS, EMOJIS and SLANG. This is a big no. You need to show that you are respectful to the teacher. They will not take you seriously if you made your font green, used an emoji for very sentence and slang. It is absolutely inappropriate and makes you look bad.
- Make sure to sign your name at the end. My email signature looks like this. I keep mine simple. Less is more right?
Wait 24 hours for a reply. Do not send multiple emails and be patient. If they don’t reply after 5 days then shoot another email. Faculty members are just like us and have other things to take care of. They aren’t always on their laptop 24/7.
I just found out that my blog can include Youtube videos. Oh god I still have so much to learn with blogging.
I thought I should give you a glimpse of my past. Songs that got me through heartbreak 🙁 family drama and Russian lessons. You guys know that I learnt French back in high school in Vietnam, but not sure if you all know that I learnt Russian for a year at Sarah Lawrence College. My Russian is definitely not fluent but I would say conversational, that I could have a small conversation lasting around 5 minutes with my Russian piano teacher because that’s how good I am 😛
Thanks to my awesome Russian professor back at SLC, I think my Russian accent is not so bad and quite хорошо 😉
If you’re wondering why I am so obsessed with the Russian language and culture:
- Very similar to Vietnamese culture & traditions: the manners, the respect for elders, the importance of higher education, the role of a woman, the role of a man, the need to always take care of yourself and look good when you leave the house & etc… Culture is super important to me.
- French was not an option for me growing up. My parents never wanted me to take Spanish because they believed that French was elegant, sophisticated and the language of the king and queen. Don’t ask me why they think that. I think it’s hilarious but I have no regret learning French.
- So when I got to college and had the opportunity to learn any language that I wanted, I chose Russian because I wanted to feel like a badass. Yep that’s the truth. Speaking French makes me feel very feminine but living under my parents roof for so long I wanted to feel something different, so Russian was my way of experiencing a different side of me. I love the way I feel when I speak Russian. As cheesy as this sounds but I feel incredibly sexy when I speak Russian. Now you all know my past with languages.
WARNING THIS IS NOT PG 13, ENJOY!
If you liked the rap song above, google Black Star Mafia. My go to music on Spotify when I’m working out.
Dima Bilan is a Russian Pop singer. Most of his songs revolve around heartbreak, love and tragedy. His songs make me miss Vietnam for some reason.
If you didn’t like any of those maybe this one? Beautiful piece by Evgeny Grinko. I actually used one of his pieces during my theatre performance back in High School. Besides Evgeny I am a big fan of Igor Stravinsky’s music. “5 easy pieces for 4 hands” is a wonderful piece and perfect for piano players.