Stop Ghosting Your Professors
Sometimes connecting with professors online can feel a little… well, spooky. Their emails can appear in your inbox out of nowhere at any moment, they sometimes grade your assignments at the height of the witching hour, and you may even feel a little haunted by their class announcements that you still haven’t responded to weeks later.
Spooks and scares aside, professors are invaluable resources that we often overlook. They’re experts with ample experience in their field, but we don’t always realize how much they can teach us outside of the (virtual) classroom. Here are a few ways you can stop ghosting your professors and start reaching out instead.
Ask for help — but be realistic.
Confused about your homework? Have a question about the lecture? Your professors expect you to ask for support — after all, helping you understand the material is part of their job — so don’t hesitate to reach out to them with questions. Do remember, though, that your professors aren’t otherworldly; they’re humans with plenty of responsibilities outside the classroom. Many of them teach classes other than the one you’re in right now, and they often have additional jobs outside of teaching, so be patient if they don’t get back to you immediately. If you’re struggling with a particular concept or foresee yourself having questions about the homework, contact your professor as soon as possible so you have ample time to work with them before your assignment is due.
Respond to their feedback.
You’ve probably already noticed that every professor has a different method of providing feedback. While some give short-and-sweet responses, others provide in-depth critiques of your work. You may have had professors that stick strictly to written feedback and others who record audio feedback. Whatever the case, be sure to carve out time to respond to their comments, at least occasionally. Doing so will show your professors that you are engaged in the class and working toward improvement. Plus, it’s a great avenue to ask additional questions if you have them.
Network with them.
Many students contact their professors when they need help with homework but never talk to them about anything besides school. Remember that your professors have experience outside of the classroom, and they may be able to help you as you work toward the next step in your career, so be conversational when you connect with them. Ask them about their work outside of teaching, their advice on job hunting, and resources they have found helpful throughout their careers. Most professors will gladly communicate with you via email, but some may also be willing to hop on a phone or video call. You and your professors are part of each other’s networks, so get networking now and your future won’t be grim.
Add a bio to your online learning profile.
Even in online schooling, your professor’s idea of who you are should be as clear as a full moon. Depending on which learning platform (ex. Canvas, Blackboard) your school uses, you may have the option to add a student bio to your profile. If this feature is available to you, be sure to use it. Your bio doesn’t have to be long; simply highlight where you’re from, what your interests are, and what you aim to learn and achieve through your program. Professors often reference these bios when reviewing assignments in order to get to know their students and remember who’s who throughout the term. Plus, getting to know you can help your professors work with you to focus on your specific goals.
Reach out later, without hesitation.
Maybe you’ve never corresponded with your professor before, or maybe you completed a professor’s class months ago and are now realizing that you have some questions for them. Don’t up and vanish! No matter what the time frame, never hesitate to reach out. Just be sure to re-introduce yourself to them and let them know when you took their class. Most of your professors want to hear from you regardless of when you reach out, and they’ll be glad to help you.
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