By: Amelia Norman
The prospect of speaking to a seemingly unapproachable professor may be difficult to bear. However, doing so successfully provides a litany of benefits as the professor/student relationship improves. This can be seen with letters of recommendation for your college applications or future employment, career networking, career advice, or enhanced educational understanding.
Communication with college professors is distinctly different from communication with high school teachers. In high school, teachers are surrounded by their students each day, regardless of how many classes they have. They witness and are privy to their students’ personal lives and are far more likely to engage in casual, forgiving conversation, especially when grading is the matter at hand. Professors, on the other hand, have far looser schedules and only interact with a given class of students perhaps once or twice a week. Furthermore, they tend to have higher educational degrees and expect to be dealing with mature, reasonable adults. Thus, they are more likely to expect higher amounts of respect and are less likely to be lenient with coursework if they do not witness
Getting in Touch
Most college professors post their preferred method of contact on the syllabus for their class. As a student, you can email professors to air minor grievances, such as your reason for not attending class once or twice, but it is normally best to schedule appointments if the concern is of greater magnitude. To do this, respectfully speak to the professor after class or send a professional email or voicemail explaining the topic at hand, possible solutions, etc. The following checklist may be of use:
- Review the subject line.
- Use the correct email address.
- Check your salutation and signature.
- Review grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Show gratitude.
On the day of the conference, be on time and prepared and remain entirely respectful and courteous. If you do not achieve your desired outcome, whether it is an extension or an excused absence or something else entirely, remember to respect your professor’s decision and conclude the meeting in a mature manner. This will help keep your relationship a positive one and ensure your future success!
Nevada State High School provides a system of supports and a curriculum design that empowers students to create their own solutions and plan for the future. Learn more about our proven process here.