As someone who has been called a “teacher’s pet” from about first grade on, I knew I had the specialty advice to help you learn how to get professors to like you. And it’s not about sucking up or brown-nosing, as some might say. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about communication and interacting with people from different backgrounds, and I have found as the years go by that there are simple ways to be the student that professors are excited to have in class while also not being the peer classmates roll their eyes at every time you pipe up in the lecture.
It's all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T
It’s easy to forget your teachers are just people. I never truly realized how human professors are until I got to college and heard them speak about their personal lives in class, from their spouses to their kid’s food allergies. In high school, the worlds of teachers and students are kept extremely separate—that’s not as much the case in college. Some students babysit for their professors, have dinner with their entire class at a professor’s house, and more. This makes for a much better relationship between students and professors. One of my professors was very open in class, admitting things we could relate to like, “Hey, I had a late night, and man, I did not want to drive here this morning.” It may not be the height of professionalism, per se, but it’s honest and it makes professors a whole lot more likable.
Your professors are just like you! They feel tired, they get sick, and they have bad days. Instead of treating a professor like some mysterious entity who just shows up and assigns papers, think of them as the human professionals they are and simply give them your respect. Something like offering to babysit for them when they bring up how stressed they are in class will show them you respect them and care about their well-being in relation to your education. This works whether you go to a large school and will only have them for a semester or if you go to a small school and will probably have them nine more times before your college career is over.
Master the art of communication
I was a Communication major, so this is my jam. communicating well is so important, no matter who you are or what you’re studying. A student who communicates effectively is a blessing to professors—who are often expected to be mind readers. But let’s not discount that sometimes communicating what you need or a problem is especially difficult. When I got myself into a rough patch involving grades, it felt embarrassing to admit to my teachers that I had a poor GPA and was at risk of losing my scholarship. But it was rewarding to have productive conversations with my professors about how we could work together to make sure I was accomplishing my academic improvement goals for the upcoming semester. From then on, they knew how important every assignment was to me.
Don’t expect professors to look at you and know what’s affecting your performance in class. There’s nothing wrong with sharing important information about yourself with your professors. As long as you’re being respectful of their time (utilize those office hours), you should advocate for yourself and your education. How you’re doing physically, mentally, and emotionally can impact your academic performance, and professors understand that. For example, if you commute to campus and your car breaks down so you miss or are late to class, I guarantee a professor would rather you explain the situation from the get-go instead of facing you later in the semester about lost points due to tardiness.
The same principles of communication apply to working with your peers in class as well because trust me professors will take note. If you are open and communicative about why Monday meetings for a project at 9:00 pm don’t work for you, they’ll appreciate it much more than you just not showing up to do your part. Just be cautious not to confuse being a good communicator with over-sharing or making excuses and the people in your life will appreciate your honesty.
Related: 6 Simple Ways to Impress Your College Professors
I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else. I’m still working on my own advice, but I’m learning that everyone deserves respect and openness—and you deserve that as well! Professors aren’t scary monsters. Try approaching your professor as an equal human being and you might be surprised by how smoothly your college years go. You got this!
Make your college learning experience better with all the great tips and tricks in our Majors and Academics section.