Brownie Points: How to Win Over Your Professor in 9 Easy Steps
Winning brownie points is never a bad idea with the relationships you develop. This especially is true when it comes to your professor. This is the man, woman, or non-binary person who holds the keys over your grade and a small slice of your educational and professional futures.
In the following article, we give you some keys to winning your professor over from the beginning. Additionally, you can use these tools to improve a teacher-student relationship that got off to a bad start. Take notes! It’s time to begin.
1. Be On Time
If you’re not on time for class, what does that say to your professor? It says you’re not serious about being there. It says that your time is more important than theirs. It says you don’t respect them. It says you’re not taking the class seriously.
Do yourself a favor. Start off on the right foot by not being late for class for at least the first few weeks. That way, when things do arise, your professor won’t start to think it’s your standard way of doing business. That’s easier to forgive than not being punctual out of the gate.
2. Never Leave Early Without An Explanation
It’s not that you shouldn’t leave a class early if you have to, but it’s important to be sensitive to the teacher and your fellow students. Teachers often spend a lot of time preparing for class and will be disappointed if you leave before they’ve finished teaching. If you do have to leave early, don’t make a habit of it.
If you’re going to be late, let your professor know as soon as possible. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and leave at least 15 minutes earlier than you think you’ll need. You need to learn how to prioritize your time and your energy.
3. Put Your Phone In Silent Mode
You should definitely silence your phone before class because if you don’t, you’ll be tempted to constantly check it and that’ll make it really hard to pay attention. If you’ve ever had your phone out during a class, you know how distracting it can be. You can’t help but look at it every time it makes a noise, whether it’s a new email, a text message, or a call.
The professor will probably ask you to leave the classroom. If it’s a serious offense like if you’re being really distracting, you might get kicked out of class. That’s not a great way of endearing yourself to them over the long term.
4. Ask If It Is Okay To Record
Not every professor will allow recording devices in their class. (No matter how endearing it might seem to ask.) They have their reasons for this. Perhaps they don’t want you to share (or sell) with other classes. Maybe they just don’t want to feel like their intellectual property is being taken from them. Whatever the reason, you should ask before hitting the REC button.
5. Avoid Eating In Class
Talking about distractions, few things are more distracting than the sound of someone eating in class. Your classmates may not notice, but it’s pretty much guaranteed your teacher will. That’s because they stand at the front of the class. They observe everyone.
The teacher does not look at his or her classroom as a diner. You’re there to listen and learn. Anything that distracts from that will leave them with a negative impression of you.
6. Save Conversation For After Class
There are two reasons why you shouldn’t talk during class. Firstly, it’s disrespectful towards the speaker and the rest of the audience. Secondly, it’s disrespectful towards you. When you talk during class, you’re essentially wasting your own time.
You will bother other students who are trying to listen to the instructor and learn the material. If your teacher catches you talking during class, they will probably ask you to leave the classroom. While they’ll allow you back in at some point, it could create tensions you may never be able to overcome.
7. Focus Comments On Group Discussion
If you must talk, aim it at the discussion. Be attentive to what the teacher is saying. Incorrect answers are fine as long as they are given in earnest. How do you do that?
The short answer is by being an active listener. That means paying attention to the teacher, keeping them visible, anticipating what they are about to say, and even asking questions if the format of the class warrants it. Showing that what they and others are saying is important and that you’re plugged in, you’ll be in a good position to build a positive relationship with your professor.
8. Respect Their Title
It’s a simple thing, but it’s one that is so important. Whatever your teacher wants you to call them, do it. Some are fine going by their first name. Others are more traditional and prefer a straight “Mister,” “Miss,” or “Missus.”
Beyond the standards, pay attention to educational titles as well, especially if the professor has earned their doctorate. It might feel silly at first calling someone “Doctor” who isn’t qualified to remove your tonsils, but you’ll get used to it the more professors that you come across as attaining your doctorate is a necessary milestone, especially for tenured professors.
9. Be Attentive The Whole Time
Even if the lesson isn’t quite “landing” for you that day, try to look the part of someone who is being attentive. This is not always the easiest thing to do. As long as you establish and keep eye contact, though, you’re well on your way.
If your professor does notice that you’re drifting, try to anticipate and make time for an apology. You might even give them a brief explanation before they can say anything to let them know that you still respect what they’re trying to do, but you’re having a particularly hard time recovering from whatever it is holding you back. Professors are people, too. They understand there are good days and bad days. The main thing is that you don’t make it feel like it’s them.
Building Brownie Points Can Be Worth It At Semester’s End
We hope this guide to building brownie points with your professor will give you the tools that you need to avoid the dog house. In all seriousness, it can be the difference maker in letter grades, which might not improve your overall understanding but will certainly look better on a transcript. More importantly, it can help you build valuable connections with your professors that pay dividends when the job search begins. Best of luck!
[Featured Image by The Tab, Creative Commons License]