Why You Should Talk To Your Professor

Hi, friends! There are a million articles that tell you to talk to your professor when you get stuck. This is great advice, but unfortunately, few students actually follow this advice because they think professors are too “intimidating” and “serious.” I’m sure there are some professors who are intimidating, serious, and don’t care about their students, but the truth is that they are the minority.

Professors are great resources for students. Here's why you should talk to your professor.

Most professors actually want to see their students succeed. In fact, it’s their job to help you. One of my professors said, “Unless there’s an extenuating circumstance, I will never turn away a student who comes to office hours asking for help.” I had another professor say that he only had a handful of students come in to office hours throughout the semester (how ironic is it that the students who don’t come to office hours are the ones who gripe about their grades at the end?).

Your professor will help you understand confusing concepts.

It’s a professor’s job to explain the concept, but it’s your job to make sure you understand it. If you don’t understand a concept the first time around, don’t just sit there staring at your book. Asking your professor for help is much easier, quicker, and less stressful than trying to figure it out on your own…

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They will help you pass the class.

Who better to ask for study tips than the person who writes the exam? They will help you, but you have to approach the subject carefully. You can’t just demand, “TELL ME WHAT WILL BE ON THE EXAM!” I’d say this approach has a success rate of about 0. However, an approach that does work would be, “How should I study for the upcoming exam?” Knowing how to study for that particular class is so helpful and time saving. For example, if a professor tells you that they get most of the test questions from the PowerPoint slides, you know to study those slides forward and backward! But if you don’t come to the professor, you’ll never get these helpful hints.

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Also, if you’re struggling in the class and you are willing to put in extra work to pass, your professor will work with you to help you pass the class. Like I said, professors want to see their students succeed, not fail, but they can’t help you succeed if you don’t come to them.

They will be more willing to bump up your 89.9% to an A-.

If they see that you’re giving at least 90% effort, and your grade is ever so slightly below 90%, there is a good chance that they’ll bump you up. However, if a professor doesn’t know you, there’s much less of a chance that they’ll do this.

They will hear your feedback.

This point applies mainly to professors who are teaching a class for the first or second time. New professors often explicitly ask their students for feedback in the class. “Am I going too fast? Was the homework too difficult for you? Are you getting this?” When you talk to a professor, you can respond to his/her request for feedback. They may even adjust the pace or difficulty if they see that many students are struggling.

They will be more willing to write you recommendation letters.

A professor who knows that you’re dedicated to your studies can write you an excellent letter of recommendation that shows the committee who you truly are. A professor who doesn’t know you, though, will not be able to write an outstanding letter for you. Actually, if they feel they don’t know you well enough, they might even decline to write you a letter.

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They can offer you advice and resources for the future.

Professors are great resources for career advice, especially if they’re working in the field you want to pursue. You can ask them where they went to school and how to be successful in their field. In fact, they might even have connections to people or companies that might be able to offer internships or scholarships. All you have to do is ask! (I once went to a professor asking if he knew of any scholarships in our department. He was very helpful!)

Professors aren’t these terrible mythological creatures who want to see you fail. On the contrary, their job is to help their students succeed. But we, as students, need to help them help us. They can’t do anything for us if we don’t approach them and ask for help. Most of the time, professors are willing to help struggling students who genuinely put effort in the class. Bottom line: if they know you’re serious about your studies, they will be more willing to help you succeed in your studies.


 

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