How to Get to Know Professors at Big School with Large Classes?


Susan writes:
I’m an entering first-year college student and I just read your article on first-year
success in college. I was wondering — I am going to a large public university where a
large majority of my classes will have more than 100 students. How exactly do I get to
know my professor? Do I just go in and introduce myself?


The Career Doctor responds:
I guess the not-so-helpful answer is that you should have chosen a school
with smaller class sizes but I know
that’s not helpful…
So… here are my suggestions. First sit toward the front of class and be
attentive in class make eye contact during lectures discussions etc. Students
who sit in the first few rows are generally some of the best students (perhaps
partly because they are forced to pay attention). Make sure you attend all classes.
Second work hard… and show that work through tests and papers.
Third yes introduce yourself — either after class or during the professor’s office
hours. Just a quick introduction — who you are what your major/career interest
and what interests you about the class… you don’t need to go overboard on
praise for the class (the dreaded “brown-nosing”)… just keep it short and simple…
Fourth as the semester progresses continue to occasionally make small talk
and build rapport with the professor — so that it will hopefully carry over beyond
the semester.
By the way I think it’s great that you are thinking ahead and that you have a
desire to be known at your new school. Best of luck to you!!
Finally don’t forget that good grades will not come as easily in college as they
did in high school. Here are a few tips for getting good grades in college:

  • Get organized. Use a planner of other system to keep track of deadlines
    homework assignments tests.

  • Use time wisely. Tackle harder stuff first and reward yourself with small
    breaks. As one of my favorite former students used to say “work hard to play hard.”

  • Study study study. A lot of first-year college students have never had to
    develop good study habits but now is the time to do so. And study early and often.

For more general tips and strategies for improving your grades in college read my latest article
10 Tips for Getting
Good (or Better) Grades in College
.