The Economista: Talking to Professors

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Welcome to The Economista! My name is Andy Pham and I will be giving you weekly tips and tricks on how to budget, save money, and have inexpensive fun at Brown!

As a first-gen + low-income identifying student, I found talking to professors pretty intimidating during my first semester at Brown. I kept thinking things like “They’ll think I’m dumb if I ask this question” or “They won’t be able to relate to me at all” and these thoughts really held me back from getting to know my professors – something that I was used to in high school and missed here in college.

I decided to make an effort to change this during my second semester and I think that getting out of my comfort zone in this regard has only benefited me. So, here are some tips I have on how to starting talking to more professors:

Asking Your Adviser/Meik/RPLs/Etc. to Point You Towards a Particular Person

I have found that one good approach is talking to people you already know, are comfortable, and who also know how to navigate Brown about reaching out. A lot of times they will know which direction to point you in if they can’t answer a question themselves.

It’s also nice when your point people know these other people personally because then you can ~name drop~ them (with permission of course) when asking to meet with them.

In terms of professors you may already have, they might have had courses with the same professors (or have friends who had them) and tell you what they are like during office hours. This can be nice since most of the time professors are genuinely nice and hearing this from other people can help ease tensions if you are nervous.

Making it a Point to Go to Office Hours on a Schedule

I know a lot of upperclassmen and professors I know have recommended this to me. Basically, you make it a point to go to office hours, let’s say, at least once every week. The idea is that you get into the habit of going and start developing relationships you may not have otherwise known that you wanted or needed.

I personally don’t do this and only going to office hours when I have something that I’d like to talk about or ask about, but I know this does work for some people. A point on this as well, you don’t need to talk about the course when you go to office hours. You can go in and ask them about their lives and their journey to getting where they are now. Of course, this can depend on the course. For example, it can be hard to go in and talk about general life with a professor who teaches a course with 200+ students and who may have a line of students waiting.

Looking Out for Events on Brown Morning Mail + ASK

This is another great place to start finding opportunities to speak to professors. For example, ASK regularly has lunches at the faculty club where you just eat lunch with a couple professors and some other students. This is great because not only is the food at the faculty club A+, but also have other students there can help ease you into talking since it isn’t one on one. Furthermore, the topics they have can be really interesting and helpful. I went to one once on how to talk in discussion based classes if you’re nervous.

Email

If you are really really not ready to talk to professors at all, then starting off communications by email can be really helpful. The only thing with this though is that professors are often busy and emails can easily get lost. They may also request just to meet with you instead of emailing back and forth. However, this is one way of just being in communication with your professors.

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These are all the tips I have on this, for now! As I start learning more and more about how to navigate Brown and network *gasp*, I will write some more tips! Until then, I hope that this was helpful 🙂

Thank you for reading, and until next time!

Andy

I am open to any and all ideas, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have! If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments you can e-mail me at andy_pham@brown.edu . Thanks!

 

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