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Know Your Professors

BONDING WITH PROFESSORS IMPORTANT

Professors matter. They matter even after final grades are given, or if they’ve just handed you back the harshest critique you’ve ever received on an assignment. When it comes time to consider the post-grad “real-world” or possible next steps in higher education, those professors can give an important leg up. But, that advantage isn’t cultivated overnight.

Building a relationship with professors outside of the classroom is intimidating at first glance. The payoff, however, is wildly more beneficial than any initial discomfort. As you’re taking classes and going through the school year, pay attention to which instructors really caught your attention: the ones who inspired something, who made you push yourself, or who gifted you with an entirely new take on something you previously thought you knew everything about. The educators who bring out your best are going to be the best bets.

Quality over quantity ought be your mantra in these endeavors. It’s one thing to have thirty professors who know you slightly, and entirely another to have three or four who know you—and your skills, interests, and talents—well.

Shocking as it may be, professors and instructors don’t offer office hours purely for their health. Those times are open to students for a reason, so utilize them to their fullest. Go to office hours and build a rapport with instructors you like. These are people with knowledge and experience in your field, and can offer untold advice about it, even outside of a strictly academic context.

By that same token, take multiple classes with instructors you like. Show them your skill-set in a variety of related subject areas; don’t just be a one-trick pony for them.

Once you have a few instructors that you feel comfortable with, get their advice on the state of your major, or what they’ve seen help successful students in the past. They’ll want you to succeed just as much as you do.

Building relationships takes time and effort; you won’t be able to complete all these steps in a day or single semester. But, if you craft and nurture your time with professors, you’ll put yourself on the best footing possible for the uncertain and intimidating post-grad world.

—Jordan Anthony

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