Faculty Expectations

Whether you are in a small colloquium of 10 students or a large lecture with over 100 students, allowing professors put a face to your name can be invaluable. Professors can give advice on academic and career opportunities, write recommendations for scholarships and job interviews, and could even be your mentor.

In this video, students discuss tips for communicating with and getting to know professors, and share some of their own personal experiences with the faculty.

Helpful Tips for Meeting Professors

What are benefits of meeting with your professors one-on-one?
You can save time studying, and make the time you spend studying more effective. You can increase your probability of a higher grade. And also, establish a rapport with the professor and develop a positive perception to help you through the class and beyond. (View the video above to hear students talk about how professors have helped them with classes and even with seeking out internships further along into their college careers.)

When and how often should you meet?
All professors will offer set office hours. You can find these on the syllabus. Also, most professors are available right before class or right after class. Be sure to work with your professors on their timetable, and not try to force them to be available during your schedule.

What sorts of questions should you ask?
Begin with general questions, then ask more specific questions. Early in the class, you might ask questions related to the teaching philosophy or course objectives. You can also ask for advice on how to approach the class or study for the class. You can also ask why the textbooks or readings were specifically chosen, or what an “A” student should do to prepare for tests in the class. Remember, especially early on, these general questions may be beneficial for your classmates, so don’t be afraid to ask them or seek clarification around these topics during class time.

As the class goes on, you will want to ask more specific questions related to the subject and to the assignments. Be sure you understand what will be on exams before going into them, and what sort of questions will be on the test (essay, multiple choice, etc.). You can also ask if any study guides are available or recommended. For papers, ask what constitutes an “A” paper. You can ask about checkpoints and get expectations around where you should be at different stages of drafts and revisions.

The art of asking questions
There is an art to asking questions. You want to ask specific and leading questions. It’s also good to test your theories and ideas to see if you’re on the right track. Start questions with a statement. Let the professor know that you’ve done your homework and the assigned reading, but working specific topics from the readings into your questions. It is helpful to devise questions and maybe jot them down as you do the readings. Have your questions well thought-out in advance; don’t ramble.

Here are some example ways you can begin questions in a productive one-on-one meeting:

All professors will offer set office hours. You can find these on the syllabus. Also, most professors are available right before class or right after class. Be sure to work with your professors on their timetable, and not try to force them to be available during your schedule. Begin with general questions, then ask more specific questions. Early in the class, you might ask questions related to the teaching philosophy or course objectives. You can also ask for advice on how to approach the class or study for the class. You can also ask why the textbooks or readings were specifically chosen, or what an “A” student should do to prepare for tests in the class. Remember, especially early on, these general questions may be beneficial for your classmates, so don’t be afraid to ask them or seek clarification around these topics during class time. As the class goes on, you will want to ask more specific questions related to the subject and to the assignments. Be sure you understand what will be on exams before going into them, and what sort of questions will be on the test (essay, multiple choice, etc.). You can also ask if any study guides are available or recommended. For papers, ask what constitutes an “A” paper. You can ask about checkpoints and get expectations around where you should be at different stages of drafts and revisions. There is an art to asking questions. You want to ask specific and leading questions. It’s also good to test your theories and ideas to see if you’re on the right track. Start questions with a statement. Let the professor know that you’ve done your homework and the assigned reading, but working specific topics from the readings into your questions. It is helpful to devise questions and maybe jot them down as you do the readings. Have your questions well thought-out in advance; don’t ramble. Here are some example ways you can begin questions in a productive one-on-one meeting:

  1. “As I do the reading….”
  2. “As seen in the past, what do your ‘A’ students have in common?”
  3. “As I understand the lecture….”
  4. “My plan for studying for your exam is to…”
  5. “How do you suggest I prepare to get the maximum credit on your essays?”
  6. “According to Ellis (author of the textbook)…”
  7. “This is how I`ve prepared thus far for your first exam…”
  8. “If I understand you correctly…”
  9. “If you were me, how would you….”