My name is Max and I am a CU Denver Student Ambassador with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. I am here to talk to you about how to properly make connections with your professors and get to know them!
First, before I get into this, one very important thing should be mentioned: at CU Denver, the truth is that all of your professors want you to succeed.
It sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true! The reason I mention this is because I would bet that if you reached out to your professors, 99% of them will respond in kind. In fact, from what I have heard, they love it when a student is motivated enough to ask them questions! So, when reaching out to your professor, don’t be shy, and remember that they want you to do so. Now you may be wondering how you can actually make connections with them. Great question! The first thing I would recommend is to speak up during class. This shows that you are interested and engaged in their class, and a bonus is that you will get a more personalized experience in class. If your class is in-person, you can also stay a bit after class to ask the professor some questions about the course content, or about getting to know them better as a person. For example, stay after class to introduce yourself, and ask your instructor a few casual questions like where they got their degree(s) from, what were some of the highlights (and maybe even challenges) of that experience, and if they’re involved in any kind of research. This a great way to initially make your professor’s acquaintance!
Another avenue I would strongly recommend that you get to know your professor is to attend their office hours. Every professor is mandated to have open office hours, which is a dedicated time for students; you can drop-in to ask any questions you might have. Like I mentioned earlier, these questions can be about the course material, or can be more of a casual getting-to-know-you vibe. It will be more of a personal one-on-one encounter, and your professor will likely be impressed that you care enough about the class to come to their office hours. Additionally, your performance in the class may improve since you will be able to get your questions about course concepts, homework assignments, tests, etc. answered personally by the professor.
Now, the question to end all questions: Why? What is the point of getting to know your professors?
You may be thinking, can’t I coast through all my courses without even knowing my professor’s name? Well technically, yes, but getting to know your professors will open several doors for you. Firstly, especially if your professor teaches classes in your major, they can give you helpful tips on things in your field. For example, one of your professors might know of an internship that would be perfect for your interests, or maybe they can tell you about firsthand experiences they have had working in the job that you want. Who knows, maybe they could write you a glowing letter of recommendation that lands you a job in your field of study. A second reason to get to know your professors is that you will need references for your resume, whether it’s for graduate school applications or job applications. If you’re planning on continuing your education after earning your bachelor’s degree, graduate schools want to see that you have a few well-developed relationships with your previous professors.
Ultimately, getting to know your professors is a strategy that can only help you in the long run!