If you’re like a lot of other students, you keep contact with your teachers, professors, and counselors to a minimum. You associate going to the principal’s office as synonymous with trouble. It’s understandable when you’re young and adults seem big and scary—but in college, you’re on a more even level with the adults in your life, so learning how to stay connected with them in high school and college is important. The teachers and instructors throughout your education have a wealth of information to share, but they can only convey so much during a two-hour lecture or a 40-minute class. And counselors have an entire list of students to keep up with each year. That’s one reason you should be meeting or Zooming with your teachers and counselors regularly—here are six more.
1. You’ll keep on pace for graduation
Staying on pace with your graduation requirements is a must if you intend to go to college after high school or find a great job after college. In college, falling behind and enrolling an extra year could cost you as much as $80,000 once you factor in the money you’d lose being a part of the full-time workforce in your chosen field. That’s a shiny new car or a hefty down payment on a first home. And if you’re a high school student, not graduating could potentially put you off your college and career goals by years. Your school counselors and advisors are ultimately the best resource for meeting your graduation requirements. Meet or Zoom with them at least once a semester to review your pacing and standing. As a college student, if you’re falling behind, you may need to take a few summer or winter break courses to stay within the four-year graduation window. Another option? High school and college students can investigate whether your school accepts CLEP exams and use prior knowledge to quiz your way out of a required course.
2. You’ll have your eyes opened to new possibilities
Your teachers and counselors hold valuable insight about possible career paths if you haven’t chosen one yet. For example, you may have a passion for the law but no desire to stand before a judge and cross-examine witnesses. They can guide you to alternative lucrative legal careers, such as court reporting. They can also give you a better idea of how much schooling you may need for your desired career. Do you think getting a PhD is too expensive? Why not set up a meeting with a college counselor or your current college advisor? They could fill you in on tricks like planning to study abroad while in grad school to slash your costs while earning an advanced degree.
Related: 6 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College
3. You’ll build mastery skills over memorization
Think about your least favorite class in high school. Chances are, you don’t remember much of the content of your last exam. You might not even remember what it concerned. If you’re a current college student, you may not even remember much from an exam you had last week. That’s because there’s a difference between memorizing something for a test and truly absorbing that knowledge and making it a part of your intellectual schema. One enters your short-term memory and is quickly replaced by concerns like how to score the best concert tickets. The other becomes a working base you can build as you acquire new information, deepening your understanding. Making the effort to connect with your teachers and professors beyond required class time will help you better understand material through questions and discussions you wouldn’t otherwise have. Sometimes a good conversation is worth more than any study session.
4. You’ll learn valuable life skills
Your counselors don’t only exist to help you get to college as a high school student or assign you courses and approve your final semester schedule in college. They’re rich sources of valuable adulting information. For example, you might not know the first thing about how to file taxes. Your counselor or advisor might not be an accountant, but they can point you toward any service the internet or your university offers that may help. They may also refer you to qualified outside vendors you can trust. Are you struggling to get enough to eat at home or while living off campus? It might not occur to you to talk to someone at your school. However, they may know about local nutrition resources and food banks to fill your pantry. They can also direct you toward any free or low-cost health services in your area or that your university may offer.
5. You’ll establish yourself as a dedicated learner
Teachers know they shouldn’t play favorites, and most abide by this rule. However, it never hurts to establish yourself as someone dedicated to your studies. If nothing else, you’re more likely to get a favorable reply if you have to request an extension due to unforeseen emergencies or receive above and beyond assistance when you seek help. Developing a familiarity with your teachers and counselors also keeps you on the top of their minds when opportunities arise that may suit your interests. For example, you might be the first to know about a new scholarship opportunity, an internship that fits your career interests, or part-time jobs in your area or on your campus.
6. You’ll gain access to networking opportunities
While you won’t be doing as much of this in high school, the best way to break into a new industry after college is to network with those who are already established—so learning networking techniques early won’t hurt. Your professors and counselors are working in their fields, and maintaining regular contact with them opens the doors to opportunities to mix and mingle with people or make connections they have to individuals in other fields. For example, you can ask them about upcoming conferences they plan to attend. Is there room for those not yet certified but passionate about the topic? Adding such activities to your résumé shows your dedication to your chosen field. You could also meet someone who becomes your future boss.
If you’re like many students, you might limit your interaction with your instructors and advisors because they intimidate you. However, doing so deprives you of the full benefit of your educational experience. In college, you’re considered an adult on equal footing with them. Whether you’re currently in high school or college, learning to overcome that shyness is important. Set up regular meetings and Zoom touch points throughout the year to connect with your counselors and teachers. You’ll find yourself with far more opportunities at hand if you do.
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