Nov. 30, 2020
The Princeton Review/YouTube
You already know how valuable student-teacher relationships can be; the bonds you built in high school got you rock-solid recommendation letters that helped to pave your way to college. Your professors can get you even further, so here are four reasons to foster strong connections with them.
References weren't just for your college application. Depending on your goals, you're likely going to need a reference for at least an internship, assistantship, study abroad program or graduate school. The more your professor knows about your interests, abilities and ambitions as a student, the better a recommendation they can provide. Make the effort to drop into office hours, speak up in class and partake in departmental activities to get more face time with the professors you want to get to know better.
Many instructors are not only experts in their subject, but are also respected professionals in their field, and can share a wealth of knowledge about both. Don't just settle for learning science in the classroom when you can also pick up valuable tips about doing cancer research or how a psychology major can get their break. Conversations with these professors can reveal both possible career paths and actionable steps to help you get there. As you cultivate a stronger relationship with your professor, they will be in a better position to direct you to someone in their network or introduce you to opportunities you wouldn't otherwise have known about.
Just as a teacher supports you throughout their class, a mentor supports you throughout your career. You'll have the opportunity with many inspiring professors to form that mentor-mentee relationship, and you should absolutely seize it. These important mentorships go beyond giving you the skills you need to succeed; they provide a supportive foundation that you can rely on as you begin your job. There's nothing quite so rewarding (for both mentor-mentee) than being able to touch base post-graduation to talk about career successes.
Have you ever refrained from asking a question in class because you thought your teacher was intimidating? We've all been there. It's a lot easier to speak up when you feel comfortable with the person on the receiving end. When you form a strong relationship with your professor, you'll be more likely to ask for help or contribute in class because you understand the expectations. Likewise, your instructor, knowing your strengths, will be better able to assist you. They might even push you to explore further academic or professional pursuits in the areas where they know you excel, but where you might lack confidence. Ultimately, connecting with your professors will deepen and enhance your academics in college.
Remember, all of the researchers, professionals, writers and intellectuals you encounter as college professors are there to help you. They want to pass on their information, and they want you to succeed. Take advantage of this special opportunity and make connections with your professors that will benefit you for years to come. For more tips about how to make the most of your college career, subscribe to our YouTube channel.