How to communicate with college professors
A college professor is just a person, which means he or she may have all the human flaws a person may have. Your professor may be insecure, shy, overly arrogant, self conscious and maybe even a complete pervert. Your professor may have checked out of his or her job, or may be going through a messy divorce. All of this is just another way of saying that your professor is not always right and doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. You are speaking to a flawed human, as we all are, so here are some tips on how to do it.
They are not your friends
It is embarrassing when you see students that think they are friends with the professor when the professor is just doing his or her job. It is even harder to watch when the student thinks he or she is being funny. The worst case scenario is when the student thinks he or she is being clever. That is a point covered just below, but in summation, you should not treat your professor like he or she is your friend.
He or she is just doing their job, and part of their job is to make you like them. They do this by being very friendly, and even if you have a good relationship with your professor, you should remember that he or she is not your friend and never will be. At the most, your professor is a well wisher, and that is the best-case scenario.
You are not as clever as you think you are
Be humble when communicating with your professor. You may think you are clever, and your classmates may think you are clever, but if your professor has a brain and is a thinker, then you are just embarrassing yourself. He or she has already thought the “revelations” you are saying and has already moved past it. The professor is humoring you because young people need to go through the “I am so clever” stages, but the fact is you are not impressing your professor as much as you think you are. Stay humble and your professor will not try to avoid you in the future because he or she is sick of your “noise”.
They are not “in” to you
Your professor does not think you are the bee’s knees. The professor has to act as if you are because he or she wants to keep his or her job. Being a professor is not a popularity contest, but if a professor is disliked by enough students then it will make his or her life harder. Your professor is being polite and you should respect that. Do not become the peacock and convince yourself that your professor is stroking your feathers.
They may come on to you if you are hot
If your professor is coming on to you then you may have trouble telling the authorities. This is because they may not believe you and it will cause trouble that you do not want. That is how perverted professors get away with it. If on the other hand you are starting to believe that your professor is attracted to you and coming on to you, you need to put some distance between you and him or her (usually him). Above all, do not take it as a compliment. You are not the first student that the professor has come on to and you certainly will not be the last. It is not something special and it is not a one-off. Steer clear of your professor as often as you humanly can if you feel that he or she is coming on to you.
Make your questions focused
The rambling question is not going to please your professor. There are some people that just like to hear the sound of their own voice. They will ramble and ask a number of smaller questions within the context of their bigger question. Doing this will help nobody. It will not help you get an answer and will not help your professor reply. Ask a focused question, and if you still have questions after your answer then ask follow up questions.
Emails are a good way of asking questions if it is allowed
If your professor encourages questions via email, then it is a very good idea to send your question by email. It gives the professor time to answer and it gives you written answers instead of having to remember what the professor said when you asked his or her in person. You can also ask more detailed questions and insert quotes and other media to make your point.
Make an appointment to see your professor for bigger questions
Your professor may be very busy, which may mean he or she may not like being crowded after lectures. If your professor takes appointments, then arrange one if you have a larger and more complex question. Also, be wary of asking questions that are already answered in the hand-outs the teacher gives you, as this can be very annoying for a professor.
Amy Cowen is a professional writer at Proofread Grammarbase and occasional guest blogger who focuses mostly on all educational things. She likes sharing her knowledge with her students and readers.