How to Talk to a Professor

A professor is a person who guides you in the process of learning. On the other hand, some students are afraid to talk to their professors about study matters mistakenly thinking that they may seem not clever enough to understand the material without additional help. Although there are professors with whom it is really hard to find the common ground, many more educators are easy-going and always ready to assist their students. If you also want to talk to your professor, consider these 5 pieces of advice.

Tips on how to approach your professor

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1. Remember about good manners. Do not seem inattentive by asking a professor about his working hours. To find out this, check the syllabus. In case the professor’s work time is inappropriate for you to arrange a meeting, discuss the time that is appropriate for both of you. In addition, remember to knock on the door before entering his/her office, even in case it is open. It is also more polite if you greet your instructor by name.

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2. Questions to avoid in your conversation. There are a few questions that are inappropriate to ask when you discuss some difficulty in your studies:
• “Will it impact my grade?” Such question is not suitable because the professor should not think that you perceive some things in his/her course more important than others.
• “May I still have a B?” If you pose such question to your professor, he/she may think that you care only about grades, not about gaining knowledge.
It is also inappropriate to mention that you are an A student. The professor is not going to judge your knowledge based on your reputation.

3. Discuss the difficulties. Whenever you experience challenges in understanding the course material, make sure your professor knows about it. Negotiate the difficulty you cannot overcome with your professor and he/she will provide you with a useful piece of advice.

4. Express your interest in a subject. Meet the professor to ask questions or offer suggestions that you did not managed to make after class. In this way, you will show your genuine interest in the course and your professor will be pleased to see that.

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5. End your conversation wisely. Some professors will end the dialogue themselves when they think that everything is clear to you. On the other hand, there may be no signal that the professor intends to stop talking. In such case, do not hesitate to end the conversation politely.

You should not be afraid to share your ideas with your professor. Just do it mannerly, appropriately, and wisely. Also, use the tips and it will be easy to find the common ground with your professor.


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