How to Befriend a Professor

How to Befriend a Professor

Befriending your professor can open many professional doors, especially if you are pursuing graduate studies or post-grad studies. Establishing a good relationship with your professor can make it easier for you to get recommendation letters for jobs or positions after school. It can also enrich your experience in the classroom and deepen your learning. To befriend a professor, start by introducing yourself to them in a friendly, professional way. Then, model good behavior in the class and maintain a good relationship with them over time.


EditIntroducing Yourself to the Professor

  1. Say “hello” to the professor after the first class. Make a point of approaching the professor after the class to say a quick “hello” and introduce yourself. Let the professor know you are excited about their class and look forward to learning from them. Mention your name and try to chat with the professor about your educational interests or background.[1]
    Befriend a Professor Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, you may say, “Hi, my name is Selena Gomez. I’m a second year med student. I’m looking forward to taking your class.”
  2. Go to the professor’s office hours. Most professors will hold office hours outside of class time and like it when students make the effort to attend them. Go to the professor’s office hours to introduce yourself one on one.[2]
    Befriend a Professor Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Come prepared with a question or thought about that week’s class. Bring along notes from class so you can discuss them with the professor. Having notes will give you something to chat about during the office hours.
    • Most professors have open office hours, or office hours by appointment. Show up on time for your appointment with the professor so they are not kept waiting.
  3. Greet the professor when you see them around campus. Be friendly to the professor when you spot them walking around campus or in the hallway between classes. Say “hello” to them at social events on campus. Doing this will let them know you are open and friendly.[3]
    Befriend a Professor Step 3 Version 3.jpg
    • You may try some small talk with the professor when you see them and they do not seem in a hurry. You may say, “How’s your day going?” or “Great to see you.”

EditModelling Good Behavior in Class

  1. Sit in the front row of the class. Professors often pay attention to students who sit at the front of the class. Sit up front so the professor knows you are there to learn and pay attention to what they have to say. Make a point of sitting in the front row each class, with your pen and notebook ready.[4]
    Befriend a Professor Step 4 Version 3.jpg
    • Sitting in the front row will also allow you to ask the professor questions and hear what the professor has to say clearly and easily.
  2. Show up to class on time. Showing up on time will show the professor that you are eager to learn and want to be a good student. It will also make it clear that you care about the class and want to be present for it.[5]
    Befriend a Professor Step 5 Version 3.jpg
    • If possible, try to get to the class a little early so you can get a front row seat. Getting there early will give you a chance to chat with the professor before class and with your fellow classmates.
  3. Go to class regularly. Be present for every class so the professor knows you are a dedicated student. They will then be more inclined to be friendly with you.
    Befriend a Professor Step 6 Version 3.jpg
    • If you are not able to attend class, make sure you email the professor to let them know. Try to make up for missing class by going to their office hours to show the professor you are still dedicated to the class.
  4. Ask the professor thoughtful questions. Be an active participant in the class by asking the professor questions that are thoughtful and engaging. Asking thoughtful questions will demonstrate to the professor that you are paying attention and interested in the class.[6]
    Befriend a Professor Step 7 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, you may ask a clarifying question during a professor’s lectures like, “Professor, would you mind explaining the main concept in a bit more detail?”
    • You can also ask thought-provoking questions like, “Professor, why does the author describe female characters differently than male characters in the text?”
  5. Participate in class discussions. Encourage your classmates to participate in class discussions by asking them thoughtful questions. Pose thoughtful questions to the room. Make interesting remarks to keep the discussion going. This will show the professor that you are a good class leader and interact well with your peers.[7]
    Befriend a Professor Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, you may ask the class, “Did anyone else find the passage confusing?” or you may say, “I’d love to know what others thought of the solution to the problem.”
  6. Complete your assignments for the class. Another way you can get on your professor’s good side is to complete your assignments for the class to the best of your abilities. Hand in your assignments on time. Follow the professor’s requirements for the assignments to the letter. This will show them that you are a dedicated student worth befriending.[8]
    Befriend a Professor Step 9 Version 3.jpg
    • If you have questions about the assignments, communicate with the professor. Doing this will help you to build rapport with the professor and show them you care about doing well in the class.

EditMaintaining a Good Relationship with the Professor

  1. Ask the professor about extra credit opportunities. Let the professor know that you are open to earning extra credit for the class, especially if you have missed a class or are trying to make up an assignment you missed. Talk to them about extra assignments you can do for credit. Ask them if there are events you can attend that would count as extra credit. This will show them you are committed to doing well in their class.[9]
    Befriend a Professor Step 10.jpg
  2. Attend campus events promoted by the professor. If the professor mentions an event on campus that they are hosting or are involved with, make an effort to attend. Sign up for any initiatives put on by the professor. Participate in campus events the professor is a part of to show them you want to be supportive.[10]
    Befriend a Professor Step 11.jpg
  3. Respect the professor-student relationship. While you may want to be friendly with your professor, do not overstep their boundaries. Respect their time and space as your professor. Do not try to contact them outside of class using their phone number or private email. Maintain a professional demeanor with the professor so they respect you as their student.[11]
    Befriend a Professor Step 12.jpg
    • Being respectful of the professor-student relationship does not mean you cannot be friendly or chatty with the professor. It just means you should be aware of the boundaries of the relationship and abide by them.

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