If you build a good relationship with your professor, it doesn’t need to end after you finish the course. Your professor is probably an expert in their field, and they can be an amazing source of information and help when you encounter related problems in other classes or even in the work world.
Perhaps most importantly though, your professor is well connected and can be instrumental in introducing you to the right people and providing recommendations for your job search or continued learning.
So if your professor is such an important person, how can you demonstrate your skills and abilities to them?
#1 Be there for the first class (and every other one)
Missing class is never a good idea, but missing the first class is basically reputation suicide. As all the students arrive for the first day, they will be making first impressions on the professor, and if you’re not there your first impression will be quite negative.
Unless you were kidnapped by an evil warlord the night before class, make sure you are there for the first class.
#2 Participate in class
While you might be able to learn the material fine just sitting in the back and listening, your professor won’t know whether you’re quietly taking notes or distracted from the class. By participating in class, you can show the professor that you’re actual interested in the topic.
In most cases, professors actually want to help you learn, so when you show that you have the same goal they will be thrilled to help you.
#3 Prepare for class
Participating in class is important, but if you haven’t done the reading and ask an obvious question that won’t be quite as impressive. Take the time to actually study the material before class so that you can look intelligent when you talk in class.
For bonus points, read any books that your professor has written.
#4 Use office hours
You’d be surprised (or not) how few students use office hours to actually get the professor’s advice. If you show up to learn more about your subject instead of just complaining about a test score, you will definitely stand out to your professor.
#5 Do quality work
Ultimately, college actually is like the real world: professors care about results.
All the class participation and office hours won’t mean much if you’re failing your exams. Focus on providing truly high quality work to your professor.
#6 Be on time
Lots of students turn in work late or ask for extensions. Don’t be one of them.
Worst case, missing or extending deadlines will hurt your score. Best case, your professor will be annoyed and consider you at least slightly incompetent. Create a deadline calendar and make sure you don’t miss anything.
#7 Be friendly
Something as simple as remembering your professor’s name and greeting them in the hall can make a lasting impression.
Professors are just people after all, and they generally appreciate friendliness as long as it doesn’t look like you’re hoping to be given a higher grade.
#8 Show up early to class
Being on time is crucial, but showing up early can help you get to know the professor better outside of their lectures.
Take the opportunity to talk with the professor (hopefully you’ve done your reading so that you can talk intelligently)
#9 Follow up after class
If you are particularly impressed by a lecture or feel like some teaching style really helped you learn, take a minute to tell the professor in person or over email.
Teaching professors particularly are looking for ways to improve their style, so this kind of positive feedback is invaluable to them.
What have you found your professors most appreciate?