How to Communicate and Get Along with Your Professors

You can communicate and get along with your college professors well if you respect them, and yourself, as adults. Drop any high school attitude that puts teachers on a pedestal and thinks they can do no wrong, or the opposite high school attitude of thinking teachers are useless and boring and you should sleep in class or skip whenever possible.

Besides, are you really going $30,000-$100,000 in debt so you can “get away” with skipping or sleeping in class?

professor talking with students

Professors are people.

They can be kind and generous, or rude and uncaring. Their personalities shouldn’t really make that much of a difference to how much and how well you learn in college. You can use a textbook, study groups, and research to pass any class no matter how distasteful you find the class, the professor, or your classmates.

If your professor wants to be called Mister, Missus, Doctor, or Spongebob Squarepants, that’s what you should call them.

It doesn’t cost you anything, and it will make the professor happy. Etiquette-wise, if a person achieves a Doctorate, then “Dr.” officially replaces “Mr.” or “Ms.” in front of their name; so, it’s not pretentious for a professor to ask you to call them Doctor.

At the same time, you can ask that the professor call you by your preferred name.

The relationship between you and your professors should be mutual. For the best communication, make an effort to introduce yourself sometime in the first few weeks of class, by stopping by the professor’s office during office hours. If you are confused about any assignments, make sure to speak to the T.A. or make an appointment with the professor to talk about them, well before they are due.

Read the syllabus and the rubric before asking questions – professors will not be impressed if you ask a question that is already clearly answered in a handout or online.

Professors aren’t there to pat you on the head and listen to your problems. They expect you to be punctual, responsible, and a creative problem-solver. You’ll get along well with professors if you show up promptly to class, listen and take notes, and match your in-class time with equal time spent outside of class researching, writing, and studying.

And remember, the professor you hate, may be the one that teaches you the most – not only about his or her subject, but about being a student, an adult, and a good communicator.