To some students, professors are mysterious and intimidating creatures who spend all hours of the night lurking in classrooms.
As it turns out, professors are humans, with lives and knowledge that can be excitingly beneficial, and there are countless benefits to having rapport with professors. Students can have access to professors’ valuable insight, but effort is required.
Brittany Hammontree, a senior biology major from Pahrump, Nev., has mastered the art of building rapport with professors. When initially meeting a professor, she works to discover what kind of person he or she is and demands each professor know her name.
“You can’t be intimidated by your professors, and you can’t approach every professor the same way,” Hammontree said. “You have to get an idea of what type of personality they have and then play on that.”
Communication is vital in any relationship, and the student-professor relationship is no different. The key is to communicate effectively and make sure you are your genuine self, Hammontree said.
Rebecca DiVerniero, an assistant communication professor, said she appreciates when students listen, respond and have a sense of humor.
“Part of the reason I love working here is because the students are very outgoing and welcoming,” DiVerniero said. “I like when students can give and take a joke. Some students are very sarcastic, which I love.”
A sense of humor can be fun as long as it is used in the correct time and place, said Brook Call, an adjunct business instructor.
“I like students who are fun and pleasant,” Call said. “Students with great moods are just great to be around.”
Respect is necessary when trying to make nice with professors. Nodding off in class is disrespectful and will not help you attain a good rapport, said Skyler Fuller, a junior business major from Riverton.
Fuller shows his respect to professors by physically engaging in class.
“I always try to sit close to the front of the class and make eye contact to show that I’m listening,” Fuller said.
Professors respond positively when students take accountability for achievements and mistakes. Hammontree said it’s important for students to take ownership of a bad grade, but always talk to your professors about your concerns and find out ways to improve.
Professors are valuable resources, but they are also real, living, breathing people who students should not only learn from, but should also learn about.
“Insist that all your professors know who you are, because you never know what you can learn from them or when they could help you out,” Hammontree said.