Book cover for Connections Are Everything: A College Student's Guide to Relationship-Rich Education by Peter Felten, Leo M. Lambert, Isis Artze-Vega, and Oscar R. Miranda Tapia. An illustration of a female student in graduation cap and gown is surrounded by illustrations of various people (other students, professors, and many other people) -- all these people are connected by lines, forming a network.
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ISBN: 9781421443126

Johns Hopkins University Press, July 2023

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The classroom—whether in person or online—is the place where most of your learning will happen in college, and it’s an important place to build relationships too. The interactions you have with your professors, and the relationships you build with them, can and  will be transformational for you.

This chapter features stories of students connecting with faculty (in and out of the classroom) in ways that help them learn and be successful in college and that have long-term implications for their work and lives  after graduation.

The chapter includes resources on “small steps to connect with your professor” and also “office hours 101.” The chapter concludes with some stories of negative student-faculty interactions and some advice about handling these.

Ask Yourself...

  1. If you need to contact a professor, how would you reach out? How would you write that email? Do you know how your professor prefers to be addressed? (When in doubt, use “Professor _____.”)
  2. Who are your favorite professors—or what are your favorite classes—this year? Would you consider talking to one (or more) of those professors before or after class about what interests and excites you about the course?
  3. What are three to five questions you could ask your professor during office hours that are not directly course related? (For example: How did you decide to become a professor? What was the most important thing you did in college to be successful? Did you experience homesickness when you were in college?)

Try This!

  1. Find out when one of your professors has office hours by checking the course syllabus. Before you stop by or virtually attend their office hours, write down a couple of questions and bring them with you.
  2. Introduce yourself to your professor during one of the first few days of class. You might tell them your name, where you are from, your major or class year (for example, first-year or sophomore), and one thing you are looking forward to in the course.
  3. Practice writing an email. Emails generally follow this format: (1) “Hi Professor _____,” or “Hi Dr. _____,”; (2) introduce yourself if the professor does not know you; (3) state your reason for reaching out; and (4) close with something like “Sincerely, [your name].”