Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Going the Extra Mile to Impress Your Professor

Hi UTSC-ers!

Ever wondered how a good student becomes an outstanding one? To truly impress your professor, getting good grades just won’t cut it. It only demonstrates that you understood the course material. This won’t impress any professors as they already expected there to be strong academic performers in class. To be an outstanding student, one must go beyond such expectations. You have to take the extra mile to differentiate yourself from the rest of the class. The following are ways to differentiate yourself:

   1. Reading Course Relevant Material Outside of Class – It is always good to go beyond class material (the course book is just for basic understanding of the course subjects as well as the perspective of a single author). By reading external course material, you will be able to understand and compare different perspectives of the course subjects. Such knowledge can pay dividends when writing essays or doing assignments. This will really impress the professor because you took the initiative to further your learning outside of class. It shows you have a real passion for the course. It also gives the professor positive feedback on how well he connects with his students.

   2. Emailing the Professor and Starting Discussion on Class Forums – Emailing or chatting with the professor allows you to get noticed on an individual level. When I say discussion with the professor, I do not mean asking preliminary questions (which could probably be found in the course syllabus) or having casual talk. I mean creating an academic discussion (e.g. I have always talked to my professors about the news and how it relates with the topics discussed in class). This can really impress your professor as you are able to relate and apply class material to real world settings. It also tells them that you are constantly thinking about their course subjects even outside of class. Professors are also interested in hearing different opinions other than their own (keep it constructive and positive).

   3. Class Participation – Class participation is a good way to make a good impression. It shows the professor that you came prepared for class. You will also stand out compared to the students who did not participate for the class. Active participation also demonstrates to the professor that you are learning in class. It also indicates that you are paying attention which is a sign of respect between the professor and students. Most of these professors are devoting their free time to teaching students (they have other things to do and a family to take care of).  They are teaching for your benefit so you should show some respect by paying attention.

   4. Taking Initiative – The final way to impress your professor is to take initiative. There are a variety of ways one can show initiative. Being a leader in group projects or choosing to present first is a great way to show your leadership abilities and confidence (which is useful if you want to use your professor as a reference). Another way to demonstrate initiative is to voluntarily help out your professors when they require it. Usually professors will state this in class by asking for a volunteer.

The key to impressing a professor is not to flattery, but rather to demonstrate to the professor that you have a real passion and interest in what he is talking about in class.

Hope this helps!