UC Davis is a big school, and sometimes it can be difficult to stand out to your professors in classes with hundreds of students. Here are some easy tips that can help you get to know your professors better.
One thing you can do is introduce yourself to the professor. While this may seem obvious, not a lot of students actually do it. Introducing yourself to your professor, especially earlier on in the quarter, will make the professor notice you more often and make it easier for them to remember your name.
Go to office hours
Office hours are a great time to get to know your professors! You can go to office hours to get clarification on any confusing material in the class or simply get to know your professors. Office hours provide one-on-one time to talk to your professor, so if you take advantage of that time, they will definitely remember you.
Students can get involved with the research, learn more about peer tutoring, writing support, and workshops. You never know when you are going to need a letter of recommendation or support from a faculty member, so it’s important that they remember you.
Since a lot of professors work part-time or have worked in their field professionally, they may have connections with employers that could help you if you are looking for opportunities to get involved in the field. And ask your professors questions! It can be about anything covered in class that you need help understanding. Or if you are interested, ask your professor about their research. This is also a good way to start scoping out research opportunities!
If you cannot meet with your professors during office hours or outside of class, email them your questions. Professors are an amazing resource that you should utilize. Asking questions is how people learn, so ask away.
Participate in class
Another way to get to know the professor is to participate in class discussions and stay engaged during lectures. Doing this during virtual class is different, of course, but doable. Keep your camera on (if your bandwidth allows), use Zoom reactions, or chat to stay engaged in what is being covered.
When class is in-person, sitting near the front also demonstrates your interest (and can help to keep you awake!). Going to class every day and turning in your assignments on time will make a good impression and show your professor that you care about the class. If you raise your hand more often in class, the professor will notice you as someone who is engaged and cares about learning the material. Sometimes, it can be a little nerve-racking to raise your hand in class, but just remember that everyone is there to learn. So stay engaged and don’t be afraid to raise your hand.
As a public speaker, it can be very easy to tell which students are paying attention and which are distracted, talking, or on their phones. If you want to build a relationship with your professor, you have to show them the same respect you would expect when speaking. Especially with virtual classes, it is easier than ever to get distracted during class. I have seen students on Zoom looking at their phones in class, eating, cooking, and even sleeping. Don’t be that student. If you turn your camera on, make sure you are paying attention.
Stay in touch
Now that you’ve made contact with your professors, and maybe even seen them one-on-one in-office hours, it’s important to stay in touch with them—especially if they’re an expert in a field you are interested in. Staying in touch can mean seeking out and taking more of their classes, keeping up with their research and publications (set up a “Google Alert”), or just checking in by email or dropping by office hours to ask about or get their opinion on something. And don’t forget to say “hi” when you see them at the Coffee House.
Hopefully, these four strategies will make the process of getting to know your professors easier. Just remember that professors are there to help you, so don’t be intimidated to talk to them.
Audrey Mechali is a sophomore at UC Davis where she double-majors in Psychology and Managerial Economics. She is a member of the Ambassadors of Letters and Science (ALAS) program within the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.