In my post titled “Professors are SCARY…”, we talked about how to overcome your fear of college instructors. The post included four concrete ways to overcome feeling intimidated by professors. But you may ask yourself, “why do I need to talk to them in the first place?”. I’m glad you asked, because here are 3 big reasons you should make speaking to your instructors one of your priorities each semester.
1) They are the class expert
Professors are, quite obviously, the expert on their course and its content. They know how they want to structure the class, lecture on the material and test your knowledge. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? Especially if a class is challenging you in new ways and you’re unsure of how to even study for the exam, talking to the professor one-on-one can yield some helpful study tips and tricks. Because believe it or not, the professor wants you to do well in their course, even the ones that give the doomsday announcement at the beginning of the semester (you know, the one that goes something like, “No one gets an A in my class!”).
2) They do cool research
Professors, for the most part, conduct research in the field for which they teach. They then publish those results in high ranking academic journals and books. However, most of the time that research cannot be done alone and that’s where you, the student, comes in. For example, if you are pursuing a major in psychology with the hopes of working with children and your intro psych professor is currently conducting research to determine if babies recognize the scent of their mother, then reaching out to the professor to see if they could use some help in the form of a research assistant would be a good idea. You’ll have the opportunity to learn in-depth research methods, earn experience in a professional setting (hello, resume!) and put yourself in a space ripe for networking – which brings me to my next point:
3) They make a great reference
Chances are that at some point, you’re going to need someone to write you a reference – whether it’d be for a graduate program or a job. The opinions of professors are highly valued and thus getting a reference from one such college instructor is sure to put you at the top of the hiring list. Not only that, but perhaps they know someone somewhere high up and could put in a good word for you or even better, recommend you directly. Once you look at college professors as colleagues to collaborate with, instead of authority figures to fear, you’ll realize just how valuable they are as a connection. And you never know – you may actually end up working alongside them as a college professor yourself or conducting your own research.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of my list, what are you waiting for? Go forth and network! Of course, this list is far from exhaustive. Can you think of other great reasons to talk to your professor? Leave them in the comments below!