Graphic by Nate Barton
Teachers, you either love them or hate them. Going to class is much better when you have a positive relationship with your professor. When you like your teacher, it motivates you to go class more often and maybe even pay attention. It also makes you feel more guilty when you miss a class. Mentorship is beneficial for both teachers and students— a win-win for all!
What you are doing is building up goodwill. Having some previous positive interactions will help you when asking for extra help, an assignment extension, or even a letter of recommendation. Your goal is not trying to become their “favorite,” although that is a plus, but building a friendly relationship that will enhance your learning experience.
Professors are people too. They have lives that go beyond the doors of their classrooms and offices. Find out what interests them outside of their academic fields and initiate conversations about sports, television, or food. Some have wives, husbands, or children they may mention during class. If you get to know you professors as individuals, you will have a better standing to create more meaningful relationships with them. But make sure that your interest in their lives is genuine. No one, not even the teacher, likes a suck up.
Another important reason you should get to know your professors is to use their expertise in jumpstarting your career. Teachers have a wide network of connections they can expose you to, but you would have to have a strong relationship with them beforehand.
Instructors in your field of study have been teaching for years. After each year, they gain more and more students who are joining the workforce, which means more potential alumni connections for you. When you make it big, if you are ever so lucky, you would credit the professors who helped bring you there.
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