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Why I think it’s important that students communicate with professors

Krystine Therriault | Fulcrum Contributor

The question of why students don’t talk to their professors strikes a chord with a lot of people at this university, including myself.

There are many ways that students might find it helpful to establish a teacher-student relationship, but I can sympathize with the idea of feeling that approaching the faculty is daunting.

I am a third year communications student who is hoping to get an internship in the media this summer.  However, these internships require applicants to have letters of recommendation.  While this makes sense, it stresses me out because, as a student who generally does well but is fairly shy, I never have sufficient reason to push me to attend office hours and seek out guidance.

A professor I had last semester talked about how she needs to know you before she’ll write you a letter of recommendation.  She insisted that she enjoys hearing from students and getting their input on class material. This would seem encouraging, right? But still, the thought of approaching a professor and “getting to know them” seems not only mildly awkward but also strangely shallow and self-serving.  Shouldn’t this be easy and natural, seeing as it’s what we need to do to start careers after graduating?

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for students to underestimate the potential gains of asking teaching assistants and professors for help when they have troubles understanding the material covered in class.  Many students are not aware that going over midterms and discussing concepts that were misunderstood can go a long way towards improving grades. It’s worth it to take time out of your day to establish contacts in your department while working out topics you might have had difficulty grasping.

Why risk the things you’ve worked for when you have options available to you?  There are other learning tools—like TAs and the Peer Helping Centre , name a few—who are all eager to help.  The university also offers plenty of workshops that teach you to manage your stress, handle your workload, and study efficiently. People shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of these services.

It’s easy for me urge students to use the tools available to them, but it is clear that many of us—myself included—may still have a lot of work to do before we reach that point.  Some people use them and find it rewarding, but I believe many of us avoid that part of student life until we run into a situation that warrants it. Don’t follow that trend.