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Communicate with your Professors

Establish Your Presence in the Class Early

  • Get to class early and sit near the front
  • Ask questions/ make a decision to get involved
  • Answer questions or make comments about the lecture or reading
  • Have a positive attitude in class. Show interest and involvement
  • Greet your professor outside of class/ remember their name
  • If you don't understand something, make an appointment with your professor
  • Make it a point to interact with your professor before the first test or assignment
  • Professors enjoy teaching and working with students who want to hear

Establish Your Credibility as a Conscientious Student in Class

  • Be familiar with your syllabus, e.g.: Test dates and due dates for assignments.
  • Attendance and tardy policies
  • Make-up tests and late assignment policies
  • Weather policies
  • Because notebooks can be lost or stolen, make extra copies of papers and handouts and keep them in a separate place.
  • Attend all labs, study sessions or Supplemental Instruction Programs associated with a class. Your grades should show marked improvement.
  • Turn in all of your assignments in a timely manner.
  • Ask several people in your class for their phone numbers for missed notes.
  • If you missed an assignment, ask two different people in class about what you need to do to catch up. Try to avoid asking the professor a question that could easily be answered by fellow students. Professors are extremely busy people. Use their time and your time wisely and productively.

Make an Appointment with Your Professor

  • Choose a time to talk or make an appointment when you and your professor are not in a rush
  • Make use of your professor's office hours.
  • Do not begin a personal conversation with your professor when class is ready to start and certainly not in the middle of class.
  • The end of class may be the best time to ask to see the professor. However, ask if it is a convenient time to talk. Professors have back-to-back classes, too.
  • If you are upset, wait until you have calmed down to talk or make an appointment.
  • Only call your professor to make an appointment not to discuss a grade. Have this conversation in person. Never phone a professor at home unless it is a true emergency!

Conference with Your Professor

  • Be prepared! Bring your syllabus, text, test papers and assignments with you
  • Be on time and knock on the office door before you enter.
  • Be courteous and respectful at all times.
  • If the professor is speaking to someone on the phone or to another person, don't stand just outside the door. Make your presence known and then move several feet away... Respect the privacy of others.
  • Never barge into a professor's office outside of office hours, without first asking if meeting at that time is convenient.
  • Use some of these phrases:
    • "Thank you for seeing me, Dr. Jones."
    • "I wanted to have a conference with you because I don't understand a concept you went over in class. I need your help to figure it out."
    • "I am concerned about my last test grade. In order to improve, I'd like to go over my answers with you."
    • "I interpreted this test question in the following way..."
    • "Please show me how you arrived at the correct answer."
    • "Do you have any old tests or workbooks that I could review?"
      "What can you suggest that I do to learn more and improve my grades in your class?"
    • "What would be the best method to study successfully for your class?"
  • Close the conference positively:
    • "Thank you for your help, Dr. Jones; I'll see you in class."

If You Feel You Have Been Treated Unfairly

  • Calmly and clearly state your concerns to your professor and ask for him / her to reconsider
  • If that fails, put your concerns in writing and give it to the professor. Be sure your argument is clear, well supported, and well written.
  • Seek advice from a counselor or academic advisor.
  • Ask the faculty services representative for a copy of the department's grievance procedures.
  • Build your credibility. Your manner should be calm, rational and respectful to everyone you come in contact with during this time.
  • Remember, our first impressions of situations are oftentimes incorrect!
  • Confront your professor outside of the classroom, not in front of other students or in the middle of class.
  • Avoid writing emails when you're upset. Think over your issue before putting it in writing.

Last Thoughts

Don't let falling behind in your coursework keep you from talking with your professors. They are well aware of the struggles students are faced with. Your professors want you to succeed - never be embarrassed to talk with them.
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