It feels like a pretty stereotypical piece of advice to give to college students: “Make sure you’re meeting with your professors.” And yet, that piece of advice is one hundred percent right on target. Students need to be communicating with their professors, or TA’s, in each of their classes. When students are able to meet teachers, show an interest, ask questions, form a relationship, and put in some good face time, it can only help them improve in their classes. Below are some of the instances that students should be meeting with teachers.
Start of the semester introduction- At the start of each semester, students should make it a habit to introduce themselves to their teachers. A small class will have a professor, and in a big lecture, a student will have a smaller discussion section with a TA. Students should introduce themselves to whoever grades their work and is most involved on a direct level. It’s always better to get to know the teacher and express your interest in their class before you start asking for favors or follow up questions from class.
First Test of the Semester- This is a must. About a week and a half before the first exam of the semester, students should head into office hours to see their teacher. The purpose of this visit is to express anxiety about the upcoming test and to ask if there is anything specific that the student should target with their studying. More often than not, teachers will provide the road map for a student that will save them hours in studying, prioritizing, or possibly even guessing what material to review.
An Approaching Paper or Project- This is similar to the first test. There are two versions of this. One, a student goes in to get a better understanding of the assignment and asks follow up questions about the format. The other version is when a student goes in with an outline and asks the teacher to review their ideas to make sure they are “on track.” This will help guide the student and make sure they are on target before putting serious time into a paper or project. Both of these show that the student is interested in the subject and wants to create quality work.
Struggling in a Class- I think it goes without saying that if a student is struggling in class, they need to make attending office hours a regular part of their week. Not only that, but they need to make sure that they are up on the material and head into office hours prepared with questions.
Deadline Accountability- This is most relevant for papers. Students can email their teacher and let them know they’d like to come in and have a rough draft of a paper reviewed. This is great for getting feedback, but it can also help students manage deadlines more effectively. If a student needs that extra push to not procrastinate, a scheduled meeting with their teacher 3-4 days before the deadline will definitely apply the right amount of pressure to get them work ahead and avoid a “night-before-the-deadline” marathon work session.
All of these strategies are situational based on the University, the class size, and the teacher’s personality. However, communicating with teachers and face-to-face meetings should become a regular part of a college student’s academic life.