The influence professors have on every student's college is obvious. So since everyone can admit that professors are vital in the learning process, let's take a few minutes to realize just how little they are utilized. There are so many ways to get to know your professors better, and you need to take advantage of them. These relationships will have a trickle-down effect that can put you steps ahead of other students and potentially in the work force.
Go to office hours. Your professors will likely never know who you are until you introduce yourself. The simple fact of a teacher knowing who you are can have a huge impact on your grade and education. The best time to get to know a teacher is during their office hours. Find any reason to go to office hours, even if you have to pretend to ask for help on a topic you mastered long ago. During this time the professor is usually alone, so the one-on-one time will give you a great opportunity to make a good impression on your teacher. The next time the professor looks over the class roll, your name will automatically stick out and you will gain an immediate advantage.
Become a teaching assistant. This might be the most beneficial thing you can possibly do during your college career. The fact that a teacher trusts you and thinks highly enough of you to give you partial responsibility of his or her class will impress future employers and colleagues. You will develop a close relationship with the professor as you experience what it's like to be on the other side of the teacher-student relationship. As you help teach the course, you will gain a level of mastery in the class that few students do. Another added benefit is that most T.A. jobs pay decent money. The main goal is to cultivate a relationship with the professor that will be a valuable network down the road.
Do research with a professor. If you have a particular passion for a certain subject, find a position doing research for a professor. You will have the opportunity to work closely as an assistant on the professor's personal projects. This provides excellent exposure to the field in which the teacher specializes. You will receive exclusive advice and instruction from the professor that other students don't get. As with being a teaching assistant, you will form a stronger relationship with the professor and prove yourself to be a quality student with a desire to learn.
You will experience a lot of academic growth as you strive to become better acquainted with your professors. When the time comes to apply to that ultra-competitive graduate program or your first job, your relationships with your professors will come in handy. A solid letter of recommendation can be the deciding factor in these kinds of situations. You will be glad you went the extra mile to put yourself out there, and the opportunities will keep coming.
Chris Faires is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.