3 Benefits To Asking Your Professors For Help

I recently spoke to a professor who simply could not understand why some of his students went the entire semester without stopping into his office or even speaking to him. I nodded, agreeing with him that this was not a good practice for a college student who wished to succeed in any class.

After all, he went on, the real class begins after class ends.

The puzzled look on my face must have tipped him off to my confusion, so he explained:

Yes, the lecture was the part of class everyone had to attend in order to pass, but that didn’t mean that each person would understand what was going on. The real learning began after class was dismissed, when those students with questions stayed behind to pick the professor’s brain.

This, he said, was his favorite part.

Sometimes students would stop into his office during regular office hours, other times half the class would stay as long as they could or until they ran out of things to ask.

To him, for a student to stay after class, go to the professor’s office for extra help and come into class with questions showed they cared about their grade.

It’s these students that he enjoyed getting to know.

He stressed to me that students should develop a relationship with their professors. It’s a great asset that shouldn’t be overlooked. The more students ask their professors for help, the more they’ll get to know each other and the more likely the professor will be to write a great letter of recommendation for a student.

After all, he shrugged, if I don’t know you, I’m not putting my reputation on the line and vouching for you. It doesn’t make sense.

I’m sharing this seemingly random conversation with you because there are so many valuable lessons to be learned from it.

1. Stay after class is over.

If your professor hangs out in the classroom after class, you should, too. It’s a great time to get clarification on the day’s material and to show him or her that you’re serious about your grade.

2. If you have questions about anything to do with the class, just go ask your professor.

You’re not doing yourself any favors by being in the dark. Have a question? GO ASK.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that when professors tell their class, “If you’re wondering about something, so is somebody else,” it’s true.  There have been countless times that I’ve been hesitant to raise my hand with a question I’ve had simply because I was self-conscious. More often than not, another student with a bit more courage would speak up and ask the very thing I was wondering about. When that didn’t happen, I had nobody but myself to blame for my confusion.

3. Visit your professor’s office at least twice per semester.

This goes double for any problem classes you have. Bring them any questions or concerns you may have and soon enough you’ll begin to develop a professional relationship with them.

Having a good relationship with one’s professor(s) can be a student’s best friend. The better they know you, the more able and willing they will be to write you a letter of recommendation (which can be a great help when you’re applying for scholarships, medical school or graduate school).

Plus, you might just find that professors are people, too (and no, the professor I spoke to isn’t making me say that).

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Ana Koulouris

Ana Koulouris

Ana Koulouris is a senior at Benedictine University in Illinois pursuing a degree in writing and publishing. When she is not at work in the Office of Admissions or on the university's newspaper, she can be found writing short stories, reading anything and everything, and spending time with family and friends.