The past couple of semesters I've done my best to gain respect from my professors. This is something that every college student should make their goal. Not only is it great when you need recommendations (if you’re transferring from a 2 yr to a 4 yr) it makes you study harder, pay attention more and spend a lot more time writing that research paper. Striving to gain respect from your professors creates a whole new level of motivation that you’ve never experienced before. Before you know it, you’re getting papers back with those big red A’s, tests back with the maximum amount of points received and what I think is the best, a vocal “well done” when your professor hands you those papers. I’m going to help you get that respect. I’m going to help you do the best you can in your classes. Follow these tips and you should be golden.
1. Eye Contact
If you’re like me, then the first day of class you go straight for the back of the class. I hate sitting up front. I feel like everyone is staring at me. I know that is ridiculous and totally self-centered, to think the whole class is staring at me, but I’m 21 so that means I’m still narcissistic and will be until I’m… a mother? I don’t know. Anyways… If you’re like me freshman year of college than you’ll be making your way to the back corner of the room. Wrong. I’m going to allow you to sit in the back of the class, okay? Because that is where we feel comfortable, but I refuse to let you hide in the corner. You are not being punished for being in class. It may feel that way sometimes, but you are not a little kid being told to sit in the corner for pulling little Mindy’s braids. Sit in the back center. Or as close as the center you can get. Why? Because your professor is most likely standing in the front center of the classroom and you want that professor to see you. You want the professor to know you are paying attention and you want him to know that you are listening intently. We all know how it is when we try to avoid eye contact because we don't want to be called on, but we are not in high school anymore. It's time to accept the fact that you have a human body and therefore are not invisible when you aren't making eye contact with someone. So, suck it up and look right back at your teacher when they're speaking to the class. It will make them see that they are actually speaking to you, educating you. You want them to notice you noticing them. Get it? Making eye contact, nodding, furrowing eyebrows while writing notes. This is what your professor wants to see. Make it happen.
2. Speak up
You know when your professor asks the class a question about the reading or whatever you are studying and no one answers? Yeah, be the person who answers. Why? Because your professor is wishing with all his/her might that someone will actually say something. It does not matter if you think your answer is wrong or not what they’re looking for. Say it. You will either be a) right, and your professor will be all “yes!” and continue on or b) you will be wrong and the ground beneath you will open up and you and your desk will fall to the pits of hell. OH, thats not what will happen if you’re wrong?! WOW. Who knew?! Look, if your answer is wrong your professor will definitely make note that you spoke up anyway and then you will be the person he/she is talking to when explaining the actual answer. Again, eye contact while they’re explaining, listen and take notes. Try to involve yourself in the discussion always. I have a lot of teachers who want people to actually speak up and they never do. Everyone is scared to be wrong but if they notice that someone is talking, it will encourage others to shout out or raise their hand too. Ya know? Don’t freak yourself out about these things. Your professor wants to hear you. Speak up.
3. Ask Questions
Same rules apply to this one as they do in #2. You and everyone else in the class have questions and no one asks. It makes the professor think that you aren’t doing the homework or reading the material. It makes the professor think you don’t care. Raise your hand and ask the damn question. You’ll feel weird for two seconds while asking it and then it’s done! Then the professor explains it and who knows, it might widen the view on the topic. Professors may be doing the teaching, but they still want to learn what their students are thinking. If you are still being a little scaredy cat and don’t want to raise your hand in a room full of other scaredy cats, then go to them after class. The point is, you want the professor to know that you care, that you want to know the material, that you want to do well.
4. Go to every single class
Yes, even if the syllabus says you can have up to 4 missed classes without being penalized. Guess what? It’s a big fat lie. Yes, you might not have points deducted for not showing up, but when they’re putting your final grade in and they see that you attended all of their classes they might bump you from a B+ to an A-. Showing up to class means you don’t miss anything, so you are always kept up to speed, it means that your professor sees your face on a regular basis and it means that you get the respect that the other slackers don’t. If you must miss a class due to a doctor’s appointment or whatever, make sure you e-mail them ahead of time and assure them that you will bring some sort of documentation to excuse the absence. Don’t just not show up. It’s disrespectful. And unless you are in a huge lecture hall full of 300 people, they will notice.
5. Do not miss your due dates!
Pass your damn assignments in on time! I promise you that your professor is receiving more than a few emails the night before or the day of full of excuses of why essays or whatever aren’t going to be completed on time. Don’t add your name to that list. Just don’t do it. The only time you shouldn’t be passing in something on time is when you have SO many other assignments due on the same day, and if thats the case, then you should talk to your professor in person at least a week before the due date and ask if you can maybe get an extension. I’ve had to do this before. My professor was surprisingly very okay with it. He didn’t even let me finish explaining why I needed it, he just said, “That’s fine, as long as you do well on it. It’s alright!” I’m always scared to ask my professors for things, but it’s never been a problem for me. Sometimes we forget that the good ones actually want us to do well. And if you follow the other tips I’ve listed for you, then they should be okay with their favorite student needing a day or two to make their paper even more kick ass. ;)
6. Suck up
Okay, by “suck up” I don’t mean be the annoying teacher’s pet that everybody wants to jump in the parking lot after class. I mean, if you look through your syllabus and see some things you’re looking forward to reading/doing, let them know! Before you leave class or if you see them walking through the building, just say a quick hello and a “oh, by the way, the syllabus looks great this semester. I’m really looking forward to this class!” They might give a slight nod and a quiet thank you or something not very enthusiastic, but I promise promise promise they were glad to hear that from a student. Teachers are people. They are not just robotic creatures of the underworld forcing you to do hours of homework because they get some sick enjoyment out of it. (okay, maybe some of them are, but lets stay positive here.) They too, like to hear that they’re doing well. If you enjoy someone’s class, let them know. They’ll keep you in mind when they’re sending in your final grades.
I wish it didn’t take me so long to figure out to do this stuff. I’m finally getting recognition from my professors and thats because I’m finally working my ass off to do well. Getting good grades is not the only thing to strive for in school, you guys. Creating a student/teacher relationship is really important. You never know who has connections or who you need recommendations from. It's a fabulous feeling when you realize you need something from a teacher and you can think of a bunch that would be willing to help you out.
College can be unbearable. It can be scary. It can be intimidating. But do not forget that it’s not just like that for the students… We are all adults here. There may be some large gaps between student/teacher ages, but we are all adults. Adults striving to do well. Whether it’s in our studies or grasping the interest of students. Do your best to gain the respect of your teachers. It’s important. For both of you.