Friend Your Professors
By Ray Cross
Should you friend your professors?
I don’t just mean friending them on Facebook, although that might be a good idea. I mean developing a real human relationship with them. There is no better way to get the maximum return on your tuition dollar.
Your professors can help you gain the kind of experience, maturity and relationships you will need to succeed in your career. One of the great advantages of starting at a small campus is that it’s easy to get to know your professors. You’re cheating yourself if you don’t take advantage of all the opportunities your campus offers.
Some of my greatest memories as a college president involve students who took the initiative to connect with me as a person. I still keep up with many of them today, at least via Facebook. I see three reasons to make a personal connection with your professors:
- Your professor’s job is not just to present information, but to bring it to life so it relates to your life and your world. It’s your job to be open to that exchange.
- Professors can help you see careers you didn’t know existed. But you have to let them know what your dreams and goals are.
- A professor can also help you make connections with other professors who can guide your future studies, and smooth your transition into a career with personal connections and recommendations. But they are more likely to do that if they know you as a person.
So, while it’s good to connect with your professors on Facebook or LinkedIn – if they encourage that sort of thing – it’s even better to use the old-fashioned face-to-face method.
- Introduce yourself to your professors early in the semester. Don’t wait until you have a specific request or problem.
- If you have a special interest in a class, ask your professor to suggest some additional resources that you might enjoy.
- If you fall behind or get into grade trouble, don’t just ask for a better grade; ask your professor to suggest ways to improve. It might be something as simple as changing your study habits.
Friending your professors is one of the best investments you can make in your own life and career.
Ray Cross is the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension.