- Introduce yourself after class
The first week of classes can be really overwhelming — new faces, new textbooks and an entirely new professor. It might feel like your professor will never know you exist, especially in crowded lectures. But I assure you, there is a way to get to know them. It doesn’t have to be right now, but sometime in the first two weeks, go up to your professor after class. Try starting with your name, why you chose to take the class and any questions you might have!
2. Ask them to coffee
Okay, this might seem like an extremely daunting step, and it might not be for everyone. But hear me out — this is a great opportunity to have time to speak with your professor in a more casual setting to discuss anything on your mind. I know a lot of professors are more than willing to get to know their students, and it might even make your professor’s day if you ask them to get a coffee amidst a busy week. Grit Coffee on the Corner is a great place to meet them!
3. Email them consistently
I tend to email my professors about everything ranging from material questions to advice. I think it’s important to be able to communicate with your professor regularly, and by doing so, it will become easier to get to know them. Not only will this method allow you to consistently be on top of your work, but it will show your professor you genuinely care about the class itself. Do be careful though, some professors prefer you direct certain questions to the teaching assistant instead of them.
4. Attend office hours
Student resources like office hours are not just there to help you understand a homework problem but can also serve as an opportunity to converse with your professor. It can be intimidating at first, but I’ve found that talking to them about things like your study habits can give you some insight on the best way to prepare for the semester. Try going with a pre-written set of questions or thoughts you would like to share to ease your nerves.
5. Attend an event your professor is speaking at
Professors are also involved in extracurricular events and organizations. So, think about visiting a lecture or a meeting and ask some questions after! That way, you can gain an understanding of their interests outside a classroom setting. I know you’ve heard it before, likely from your professors themselves, but professors are real people with real interests. Attending events that your professors are involved with can be a great way to get to know their interests, and vice versa.
6. Look them up on theCourseForum
A student-run non-profit CIO on Grounds, theCourseForum is a site that provides students’ feedback on and historical grade distributions of professors and classes at the University. This may not be the most reliable way to get to know your professor, but it might provide background information regarding the way your professor likes to teach. I have found that theCourseForum is a quick way to get an overall understanding of how my professors and their course.
7. Ask questions in lecture
For me, raising my hand in class is no easy task. It always seems like when I do have something to contribute, another student will have already said it. But coming from a fourth-year, I think participation goes a long way in succeeding in whatever classes you are choosing to undertake. If you have something you would like to contribute, take the chance and raise your hand. I promise you, no question is a bad one.
8. Show up on time
Although this might seem like a given, showing up on time is one of the most important steps in getting to know your professor. I've noticed that professors do take note when you show up on time and when you make an effort to attend your classes — especially in smaller classes. I know we all have bad days, but that one day you feel like skipping class won’t send a bad impression if your professor knows you as the student who consistently shows up on time.
9. Sit in the front row
It may seem like a daunting decision to walk to the front of the class and sit in those almost always empty seats. However, your professors will almost always notice who does. Not only does this make you a more memorable student to your professor, but it shows them your willingness to be attentive in the classroom. Take the initiative to be that student who makes that memorable impression on your professor.
10. Read their academic works
This might sound like a daunting task, but reading your professor’s dissertation or research papers is a great way to understand what they’re interested in. It’s also a great avenue to start a new conversation with and display a genuine interest in the subject. Plus, reading their papers can be a challenging yet rewarding academic exercise to help progress your own interest. Check the relevant department’s website or Google Scholar for access to their work.