Seeing as the academia makes professors out to be or at least seem all-powerful and all-knowing beings who are part of a grading system that places your learning on an arbitrary unequitable scale that subtly describes your worth, here are five ways to connect with your professors!
- Go to their office hours
All professors are required to have office hours, and they (hopefully) write those hours and locations on the top of their syllabi. However, you can usually find it on their Wesleyan faculty profiles, too. Office hours are chance for students to meet with their professors. It ranges from students communally working on homework problems they don’t understand, to an individual talking about how they are doing emotionally on campus, to someone asking a clarifying question about class material or further inquiring about a specific class subject, to a group of students discussing problematic behavior, language, or fellow peers present in the class or on campus.
If you’re afraid to go alone, bring a friend! – the academic institution makes professors out to be these all-powerful all-knowing beings, and that dynamic is intimidating. They deserve respect and humility, and also they’re human. They are there for you, for that check, and for learning, for creating. Care about getting to know the professors who inspire you. And most importantly, create more than just a professional, intellectual relationship with them – grow a personal one.
- Schedule an individual appointment
Most professors, if not all, are eager or at least available to meet with you individually outside of office hours. Just email them or see them after class to schedule a time. You’ll get a chance to meet with them, and connect both academically and personally. They are your mentors, helping you navigate life, this institution, and their class. Most importantly, take care of them as they take care of you too. What is exciting them right now? How is their family? What are they doing this weekend? What collaborations or research are they working on right now? What is most challenging to them about Wesleyan? How would they suggest you navigate X problem? What might they suggest for you to improve on in the class? How are you thriving in their class? What do you bring to their class? These personal questions along with academic ones you may have are a solid starting off point for connecting with your professors. Individual appointments also give the special opportunity to review your papers, tests, and presence in class intimately with your professors, so you can learn and grow together.
- Linger after class
Once class is over and everyone is done asking their questions, connect with your professor. Ask them a question that you have about the material covered, or build upon what someone said in class, or inquire more about a point they made, or talk about the readings. If you stay long enough you can join them on their walk back to their office. It’s a low-key way to meet with them – it’s not as formal as office hours, but you still get a similar amount of time and attention to be with them. The only set-back is they may not be able or willing to linger after class, in which case just set up an appointment with them to connect later!
- Visit their events
Professors frequently show up to lectures, events, workshops, performances, and presentations. They may even be giving one themselves. Find out about their department’s events online and through posters around campus. Ask them what events they are hosting or going to, or invite them yourself! Sharing moments beyond the classroom helps build your relationship further, and allows for you to create a relationship that will last past that course’s end.
- Go to the DFC lunch with them
Every professor has a certain number of vouchers to treat a group of students to lunch at the Daniel Family Commons each semester. Gather some of your class peers and ask your professor to take you out! This time is again a great opportunity for you to connect with your professor beyond the academic setting and form memories outside of the classroom.