[The following is the first of a five-part series I’m calling “The Top 5 Things You MUST Do In College.” Everyone’s already heard about buying flip-flops for the shower, stocking up on veggies to avoid the Freshman 15, and to steer clear of mojitos before midterms, but there are other tips for enjoying college that the experts might have neglected to tell you about.
This series is meant to provide advice for getting the most out of college, rather than just getting through it. So whether you’re a freshman just starting out, or a senior on the job hunt, you’ve still got plenty of time to live it up (and do it right) as an undergrad.]
If there is one thing you should do before you graduate, it is to make friends with at least one of your professors.
For one thing, a professor has to be well established in his or her field, whether it’s philosophy or business, or something in between. If you get along really well with one of your professors, chances are they can connect you to a job or recommend you for an opportunity you might not have even heard about yet. You remember that old adage when it comes to getting a job, “it’s all about who you know”? Not many twentysomethings are chummy with CEOs or top magazine editors, but your professor might be. Besides, what if some day you do decide to go to law school? Imagine how hard it will be getting a recommendation letter from a professor you had years ago, especially when they see so many students in such a small window of time.
I know, I know, your school is so large you need to text your professor so he can answer your questions in lecture. Or maybe you’re thinking you just don’t know what to say. Valid excuses, but not good enough to get out of this one.
One way to go about establishing a good relationship with a professor is by checking out their curriculum vitae (most colleges and universities will have this information online); see if he/she has had any articles published recently that interest you and send them an email about it. Ask them if you can meet up during their office hours to talk about it (everyone loves talking about themselves!), or just let them know you’re having trouble deciding what to major in or what to do after college. If you don’t have the time to make it to office hours, try stopping by before or after class.
All in all, just try to make an impression upon them. They will remember you for being a curious and conscientious student, if nothing else. And the better your relationship with a professor, the better you’ll be apt to do in their class! You’ll find that you won’t want to let him or her down by being late or unprepared for lecture — just like you wouldn’t want to let a friend down by showing up late for an event.
Professors are really powerful people to have on your side. Knowing the cute football stud might get you a date for the weekend, but befriending a professor will be worth it years from now when you need a make-or-break recommendation, or a connection to that dream job.
Come back to find out about my next college must-do: Get To Know Your College Town Beyond The Pub Crawl