As incoming freshmen are continuing their journey at UF, we’ve received more questions and are back to offer some guidance. As always, submit any questions you may have through this link.
This week’s question: “What are the best ways to establish connections with my college professors?” — Jasmine Haddaway
Answer: Freshman year is the beginning of a lifelong journey; every action you take from this point on will affect your future in some way or another. You’re officially an adult — moving up in the world, exploring your passions, working toward your goals and making decisions to create your future. At UF, students have unique opportunities to establish lasting relationships that have the potential to pave the way to their dreams. UF is home to more than 5,000 distinguished faculty members that are renowned for their teaching, research and service. Starting early is the most effective way to connect with professors and maintain quality relationships.
I was in your shoes four years ago. I had no idea what to say during class, how or when to attend office hours or if any of it even mattered. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
1. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Take initiative from the beginning. During the first week of class, go to your professor’s office hours and simply make an introduction. This brief meeting will set the stage for the rest of the semester and let the professor know you have a true interest in his or her course.
2. Office hours definitely matter. Your professor doesn’t give up his or her valuable time to students without reason; professors expect students to utilize this resource wisely. Office hours should be your best friend. It can be intimidating, but the sooner you get the hang of it, the better. Learn to admit when you’re confused, and listen to your instructor.
3. Participate, participate, participate. I cannot stress this enough. I was the student in the back of the room scared to speak up during my freshman year. Don’t let that student be you. Upper division courses force you to speak your mind, and you’ll be grateful you learned early. Plus, you’ll have relationships with professors as a result because they’ll remember you for it.
4. Participate in meaningful ways. It’s important to note that all participation should be insightful. Don’t waste your time (or your instructor’s time) with nonsense statements because you’re looking for a way to participate — only speak up when you have meaningful input. You won’t impress your professor by repeating the same line previously mumbled by three other students.
5. Remember your professors are people, too. They aren’t just tools for your educational purposes; they are actual living beings with feelings, concerns and experiences. Don’t’ be afraid to question them about your college experience, your career path and your future goals. Your professors will be happy to relate to you personally (especially if you’re interested in joining a similar field of study). Remember these professors have plenty of experience under their belt and can likely point you in the right direction.
6. Don’t lose touch. You’ll need recommendation letters from these professors later in life. Even when the class is over, continue to keep communication alive — stop by office hours occasionally, send a quick email and keep them involved in your academic pursuits. They’ll be grateful to be involved, and you’ll have a connection worthy of a quality recommendation letter.
Establish these relationships early on, and continue to nurture them throughout your college career. You’ll be glad you started as a freshman when you’re a fully grown Gator. Your professors can be incredibly beneficial to you if you allow them to be.
Remember to submit questions for more tips on how to navigate freshmen year in The Gator Nation.