Expert Tips For Talking To Your Professor

Many students today are intimidated or even actually a little bit afraid of their professors. But the fact is, more often than not it pays off to get to know your professor personally. Even if you are not best buddies, having a professional and amicable relationship can be incredibly valuable to your experience at school. You may even find that you both have more in common than you expected, and the interactions may leave you with a lasting impression that you will learn from even later down the line. Professors are only humans, just like you, so treat them with the same respect and decency as you would want to receive.

It is worth noting that there are a few things that might make communication between you and your professor a little bit easier. One thing to keep in mind is to always address your instructor by the proper title. Do not use your professor’s first name unless they have specifically mentioned in class that they prefer this, instead use the traditionally polite "Mr." or "Ms." titles. Or, if the professor has a PhD, always use "Doctor". These are seemingly small details, but a respectful tone and carefully chosen words will give a good impression. If they offer to shake your hand, give a good handshake, and give the conversation your full attention. As with a job interview or any other professional interaction, maintain good eye contact and be prepared with whatever it is you want to say.

Lots of instructors have been teaching long enough that they have heard every excuse in the book, so if you are coming to your professor with a problem or a request for a favor, make sure you are explaining your situation carefully and honestly. Professors do not appreciate having their time wasted with the same old "dog ate my homework" stories, and will be able to see through most fabricated tales. Don’t expect a lot of sympathy if you have spent of most their class playing with your phone or sleeping. However, if they do grant you leniency on a due date or a project because you have presented a legitimate need for accommodation, do not waste their generosity. Many professors are all-or-nothing, so if they have allowed you additional time or other considerations, be prepared to hit the books and do your work.

Remember, most professors can recognize true commitment and dedication versus someone just trying to get ahead when they realized they’ve fallen too far behind. They appreciate people who show a real craving for knowledge and a genuine curiosity for learning. If you’ve demonstrated a sincere desire to succeed, they want you too as well, and will likely be supportive in whatever ways they can.