8 Tips for Students: How to Talk to Professors Properly

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One of the best things about college is that you are actually able to learn from the best. College professors are skilled in their area of knowledge and on top of that can provide you with much more than a simple theoretical material. They can offer you some extra books to read to understand the subject better, give some useful advice, help with things from the course that you don’t understand, and provide consultation on writing a paper for their course. Of course, for all this to happen you need to actually talk to them.

 

And that’s where the problems start. Many students struggle with not only establishing a regular communication with their professors but even with asking for their help when needed. The professors seem too strict and formal, and sometimes students are simply terrified to approach them.

 

If you even found yourself in this situation, here’s what you can do to change that.

 

1. Remember their communicational preferences.

Some professors have special office hours for consultations. Some like to communicate by emails, while some prefer personal talks, and so on. In the beginning of the course, professors tell you about their preferences and it’s your goal to remember them. First, you’ll always know how you should contact them. Second, it would please them more if you keep these preferences in mind instead of simply walking into their office and trying to talk to them.

 

2. Schedule an appointment.

If a certain professor likes talking in person, you should try to schedule an appointment with them. Also, you can write your daily schedule, just not to forget about the important appointment. This way you’ll secure yourself a time to talk – moreover, this could help you break the initial ice and feel a bit more relaxed about the whole situation.

 

3. Introduce yourself.

Professors work with so many students and most likely don’t remember you clearly. Be sure to introduce yourself and to specify your course – this will help the professor remember you as well as put them at ease too.

 

4. Don’t hold back from the small talk.

Some professors actually like to talk about something more than just their courses. Most of them like to talk to students in general – that was the reason they chose this job. Keep this in mind and don’t be too shy or uptight if a professor initiates the small talk.

 

5. State your purpose clearly.

If a professor doesn’t want to have a small talk then it’s better to start the conversation with stating your purpose as clearly as possible. The professors want to know what to expect of you. Moreover, different requests might require a different amount of time and resources from them – for example, if you simply want to know them better than all you need is time but if you want to discuss your records, a professor might have to look for additional data before you can proceed with the conversation.

 

6. Provide all the data needed.

It’s obvious yet still an important thing: if your request requires looking through some data, then you have to take this data with you. It would be quicker and easier this way. Moreover, in some cases it could be the only way to fulfill your request: for example, if you want to ask for some help with your paper because you don’t feel like your writing skills are strong enough, you should take this paper with you.

 

7. Remember that professors are people too.

You might be surprised but some students actually do forget that – and that often affects their behavior. No professor would like you treating them like an alien being, even if you do that with respect. Therefore, don’t behave strangely and don’t be too uptight – act normal.

 

8. Remember that professors can’t read minds.

For some students talking to professors could be difficult for various reasons: some are too shy, some are busy during professor’s office hours. This complicates things a bit but still doesn’t make it impossible to talk. If you are shy or anxious, you can always write an email explaining this and try communicating like that. If you are unable to reach professor during their office hours, tell this and try to schedule an appointment at a different time. While most professors are willing to adjust the rules to help students, they won’t be able to do so unless you describe the problem to them – after all, they can’t read minds.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help you find a way to talk with the professors more. I wish you good luck with that!

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