Transfer Student Services

Know Your Professors

Developing positive relationships with faculty is one important way that you can influence the quality of your education.

College faculty go by many titles: full professor, associate professor, assistant professor, adjunct faculty, instructor, and lecturer. Some may have taught for decades, whereas others may be straight out of graduate school. Regardless, these are the people who will impact the quality of your education.Many transfer students told us how important it is to get to know your professors. We think this is great advise. Your professors can and should be more than highly educated strangers who lecture and assign exams and grades. Professors can be mentors, advisors, and role models. The really good professors, and all colleges have many, will not simply provide information, they will challenge, motivate and inspire you.

Get acquainted with your professors

Sit up front, ask questions, and visit professors during office hours. Most professors enjoy sharing their wisdom and knowledge with motivated students. They may provide academic guidance, share valuable career information, and serve as references for jobs and graduate school.

Learn about the classes you're considering

If there's a class may take in the future, talk to students who have taken the course and get a copy of the course syllabus. Review the course description and requirements, and learn how grades are assigned. Go to the bookstore and leaf through the required textbooks.To get an idea of the professor's temperament and teaching style, visit him or her during office hours and ask about the course, the assignments and the availability of extra help. Note whether the professor is approachable and willing to discuss the course. Better yet, sit in on a class you're considering taking in the future. Before or after class, ask a few students what they think of the course and the professor.

Don't put too much stock in the evaluations posted by students online. These comments and ratings vary widely among students, and those who under perform often blame the professors for their own academic shortcomings.

Communicate in a respectful manner

When first addressing a professor, use a term of respect: Dr., Mr., Ms., or Mrs. If they prefer to be addressed by their first names, they'll let you know. Similarly, when emailing professors, avoid the informal writing style typical of email communication to family and friends. Remind the professor what class and section you're in, be polite, write in full sentences, and use correct spelling and grammar.

Remember that your professors went into teaching because of their passion for the topic and the satisfaction they derive from sharing it with students. Many professors report that there's nothing more professionally satisfying and enjoyable than mentoring their most highly motivated students. Be one of those students.