16 Ways to Build Rapport with Professors
You often don’t think about how to build rapport with professors until you find yourself on the wrong end of one. It happens. Clashes in personality and imbalances of power collide to create hostility and resentment. And that road can run both ways.
We don’t want that to happen to you. In the following article, we’re going to give you some helpful ways that you can build rapport with professors without doing anything outside the ordinary of what you should be doing anyway. Let class begin!
1. Appear Engaged
Professors realize some of their students may not find their class easy, stimulating, or even naturally interesting. You don’t have to pretend you love their class or be something you’re not. You just need to give them the courtesy and respect of being engaged during class.
How do you do that? Start with active listening. We’ll talk about what that means throughout this article as we move through some of these other tips.
2. Ask Questions
If you are actively listening, then it won’t be hard to note things you don’t understand or curiosities that jump out at you along the way. And by curiosities, we don’t mean things you would normally be curious about if you actually were interested in what you were learning.
No, a curiosity could be anything that, you wonder, might turn up on a test. Doesn’t mean something you have to like; just something you probably ought to take the time to learn. Note where those questions pop up and ask them directly to your professor within the preferred etiquette of the classroom.
3. Greet Them
You can gain a lot of points with a professor by simply establishing eye contact when you come into the classroom and saying, “Hi.” But don’t let that friendliness stay in the room. If you see them in the hall, greet them with warmth but sincerity. Don’t overdo it, in other words. Just do it.
4. Read the Material
Many of your questions and roadblocks will go away if you simply read the assigned material. That’s easier said than done with challenging material or things that bore you to tears. But there are ways around it.
If the book is too boring, find an interesting documentary or podcast. Make time to listen or watch without distractions. Then, take another run at the material with a fresh understanding.
5. Do the Work
Homework, projects, studying for upcoming quizzes or tests … do all of that. Your professor will love you for it.
6. Share Your Insights
You may not blow off the doors of your professor if you share something you noticed from a show or book or world event in class. But he or she will certainly appreciate that you’re making the effort to build those connections between the material and your environment.
If you notice something, make a note to bring it up with your professor. Watch the reaction you’ll get.
7. Offer Your Time When Necessary
Is there any opportunity to volunteer or help? Consider offering your time to do so. Sure, you’ll end up working for free. But that will pay off in greater access to your professor and the possibility of a long-term friend and reference when you enter the workforce.
8. Use Office Hours to Your Advantage
Your professor keeps office hours for a reason — a couple of reasons, actually. One, his university makes him. Two, he wants to be available to his students if they run into something they need help with or have questions that need answers.
Respect the professor’s time and openness by trying to schedule your out-of-class interactions during these times. He’ll probably make himself available at other times as well, but you want him to know you’re considerate of his personal time.
9. Review Comments
All professors will make comments on compositions or tests. Read them. Take them to heart. Learn from them. They are there to encourage your strengths and guide you through your weaknesses. And when you do prove you’ve learned from one of these comments on a future assignment, it will resonate with your professor through and through.
10. Keep an Eye Peeled for Research Projects
Research projects are great ways to volunteer your time. But they’re also tremendous resume builders. They teach you about the research process, allow you in on potentially groundbreaking insights, and ingratiate you to your professor who can find it difficult finding students willing to go the extra mile for them outside of class.
11. Take an Interest in Their Activities
Professors will inevitably reveal things about themselves and their outside-of-class activities. Maybe they keep a frequently-updated blog. Start following it!
Perhaps they like to play racquetball or another sport of some kind. One science student had a professor who liked to tally up his kill-count of armadillos, so he’d always ask about how many the professor had killed, if he’d killed any new ones, etc. Morbid, but a good example of how you can watch for the specifics and seize on an opportunity.
12. Recognize Their Achievements
Professors usually must adhere to the “publish or perish” principle. That means a lot of them write books in their off-time.
If you’ve got an author/professor on your schedule, seek out their book and purchase it. Keep an eye out for their other achievements as well. Let them know you’re supporting them with your interest, and you’ll stand out from others in the class.
13. Say Thanks
Everyone likes gratitude. Even professors. It’s just nice knowing that something you did made a difference in someone’s life. And if you can find and communicate sincerely the way your professor did that for you, he’s not likely to forget it.
14. Have a Can-Do Attitude
Be positive. Don’t moan and groan about certain assignments or requirements. Just read them, internalize them, ask for help if you need to. But never let them hear you complain!
15. Bring the Outside Inside
We’ve already made some mention of this, but it can’t be overemphasized. Making connections between world events or things you’re in to outside of class and the material you’re studying will demonstrate to the professor that he or she is having an impact on your education. And that’s ultimately why they’re doing what they’re doing.
16. Find Something to Compliment
When at a loss, a good old-fashioned compliment can carry a lot of weight. Ideally, you should mean it. Professors are typically good at seeing through the BS. So you have to find something you like about the professor even if you’re not that crazy about him. You can always wash your hands of them when the course is over.
Efforts to Build Rapport with Professors Should Come Naturally
They say you should fake it until you make it. Ideally, you want to build rapport with professors naturally; but if it isn’t coming easy, get into a headspace where you can at least apply some of these tips with a little imagination.
Now it’s your turn, readers. What are some things you’ve done to build rapport with professors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Pixabay]