Getting to know your professor at UW Madison can be down-right terrifying. It can be hard to make yourself stand out in a class with over 300 people, but luckily there are simple ways of breaking the ice. Believe me, having a good relationship with your professors will come in handy when you need your grade bumped up or a letter of recommendation.
On the first day of classes, one way to get to know your professor is to actually say hello. It can be ridiculously awkward to walk up to your professor after a lecture is over and introduce yourself, but it will be worth it. They admire students who are confident and take initiative, so approaching them in a crowded lecture hall proves that you are a go-getter.
Actually go to office hours
Most professors hold office hours at least once a week where students can drop-in and ask questions. Don’t skip out on office hours to take an extra-long lunch break; actually go! It’s a great way to get to know your professor a little more and get explanations to questions you may have in the course. And no, don’t just go during finals week.
Email them with questions/concerns
If you really don’t have time to attend office hours, contacting professors by email is another way to get in touch. If you do, double-check your spelling and grammar because OMGs and LOLs won’t build your reputation. Also, don’t expect a response right away; professors have lives too you know.
Don’t forget about TA’s!
You know that 8 a.m. discussion that you sit in the back of, never raising your hand to speak? Well, the TA’s notice. Be sure to introduce yourself to the TA’s and participate frequently in their class! When your professor’s lecture goes right over your head, your TA’s will be the ones to help you make sense of it.
Follow up your meetings
If you meet with a TA or professor about a specific problem, don’t just leave the conversation there. Follow up with any additional concerns or comments! Teachers appreciate when students think about their work outside of class, so if something they say in lecture applies to your life, mention it.
Sit in the front
Professors will begin to recognize you if you’re always sitting in the front. I know it’s tempting to walk into your 300-person lecture and go straight to the back, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. Maybe you’ll actually pay attention this way.
Learn about their work
Aside from teaching, most professors do a lot of interesting research for their universities. Take some time and learn about it! You may discover a new topic that you want to learn about. Or, the more likely, you’ll have some material for when it’s time to suck-up during finals week.
Remember that professors are people too!
Professors can be intimidating but they are people too. You may be used to hearing them speak in front of a crowd, but don’t be nervous to talk one-on-one. They’re sympathetic, understanding and, no matter what you think, they want you to succeed.
While it’s tempting to hide in a large classroom, make yourself stand out! Getting to know your professors is easier than it looks, and you’ll benefit from making the connection. You’ll seem like a top-notch student, and more importantly, the professors will appreciate your effort.