Neglected Connections: Getting to Know Your Professors
We are told that we will make connections in college that will last the rest of our lives. Our minds immediately jump to thinking about making friends and having good times, bad times, experiences you wish you didn’t remember and those you can’t forget. SLU is a place where your classmates will feel like family, and you will definitely find these relationships.
There is, however, a more professional type of connection to make in college that most don’t think about right away. The same small-towny sense of community that makes the bonds between students so strong also helps us get to know the people from whom we learn the most: our professors. It’s easy to forget that they were in our shoes once, and the ability to really know them is one of the best parts of the St. Lawrence experience. Not only will it score you great letters of recommendation, it will give you a unique source of support through your journey at SLU and beyond.
So how can you do this? Let’s start off simple. Introduce yourself! Your professors won’t know you if you don’t tell them who you are. This is simple enough, but it can be really daunting to go up and talk to your professors after class. I recommend having a simple question about the syllabus, the lecture, or something like that. It gives you an excuse to go up, shake their hand, and tell them your name. So few people do this that you will stand out (in a good way) and they’ll have a hard time forgetting who you are.
If you really want to build a relationship, talk to your professors outside of class. All faculty at SLU are required to have open office hours; they have to be in their office during these times and anyone can come in. You can come with a question in mind to start off the interaction, but a lot of professors will tell you to come by and just talk about normal things like sports, your hobbies, and your academic plans. Remember that they’re people, too! I started doing this during my second semester at SLU. Since then, I’ve regularly talked to, had dinner with, and even babysat for my former professors who are now my mentors. They all know where I’m from, my plans after college, my likes and dislikes, and the things I’m passionate about.
Being a college student is hard. Friends make it easier by distracting us from school and giving us support only a friend can give. But their experience, like yours, is limited, and having faculty mentors who know your goals, dreams, and abilities that you can go to for help or advice is invaluable. You will face many challenges during your time in college. Knowing that there are people that have been through the same thing that have your back and will help you grow through these challenges is a somewhat unique benefit that I desperately urge anyone to take advantage of - especially if you are coming to SLU.