Getting in good with your professor, is a fantastic failsafe should you find yourself in a tight spot sometime during the semester. Whether you’ve missed a quiz due to illness, don’t understand the material and need extra help, or have a similar quandary regarding your academic success, being able to approach your professor regarding the problem can make it easier for both sides determine a workable solution. Catching the professor’s eye and gaining their respect doesn’t have to take much effort. A few well placed, intelligent questions, participating in class discussions, or stopping by after class to point out something you liked or found interesting during the day’s lecture can etch you into his memory for future reference. A favorable view with the professor can serve as a valuable trump card should a problem arise.

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Unfortunately, the flipside to the relationship with a professor can be disastrous. Too many times these days the quote “My tuition pays a professor’s paycheck!” is uttered by the unwary student. Taking such an approach with a professor is likely to destroy any type of profitable relationship with him. It could also quite possibly harm your chances of coming out ahead should an unpredictable situation arise in which you might need the professor’s good graces to tip the scales in your favor. Especially in projects or tests in which the grading parameters are highly subjective and where much of the grade decision is at the professor’s discretion, having a poor relationship or standing out in a negative light with the professor can result in negative consequences.

Contribute in class
Actively and constructively participating in lectures or class discussions can raise you leaps and bounds above your peers in the eyes of a professor. There are few things that irk a professor more than asking students a question or opening the floor for debate and being met with bleary-eyed stares, the “deer in headlights” look, or thumping sounds as sleep-filled heads hit the desktops. Making intelligent observations, asking relevant questions, and providing your point of view or thoughts on subjects when asked, can go a long way in impressing your professor.

Act interested
Even if you find what the professor is reviewing is dull as doorknobs, at least act interested. Remember, 90% of the time, a professor is staring out into a sea of boredom. It doesn’t take much in terms of alertness and a several interested and well-timed facial expressions to catch their eye. If you are uncomfortable interacting openly during class or are more of the introverted type, at least show that you are aware and paying attention to the material that is being taught. You’ll be surprised how it suddenly seems as if the professor is often talking to you — which is most likely the case since he will appreciate your attentiveness. Make an effort after class to approach him, introduce yourself, stating your full name at the beginning and the end of the conversation. Pick out a tidbit from class you found interesting and mention it to him. Doing this at the beginning of the semester can go a long way in making an impression and ensuring he’ll remember you.

Communicate effectively
Fortunately or unfortunately for parties on each side of the academic divide, the internet and email have made communication between students and professors quite easy. In many instances, this increased communication has created an almost lackadaisical atmosphere in which students seem to take a more carefree, even disrespectful attitude toward their professors. This casual intimacy often makes students feel they can make ridiculous demands upon a professor and his or her time. The problem with this is that while the student might feel he is justified in his actions, often because he doesn’t know any better, the professor can become jaded, even resentful at such an approach. Whether you get to know your professor in person during class or over the internet through online courses, it does not give you the right to throw out the rules of etiquette regarding communication. To favorably impress upon your professor your professionalism and tact, keep your online communication friendly, efficient, and respectful.

Pay attention
Asking pertinent questions relating to the material a professor is discussing will show you are aware and paying attention and is a great way to make a favorable impression upon him. Meanwhile, asking repetitive questions regarding material that was just reviewed or that was printed on the syllabus will simply show that you haven’t been paying attention or just didn’t take time to review the professor’s material. There is a big difference between raising a legitimate question or concern and just saying something to be noticed by the professor. Make sure that if you interject something during class that you are doing so to provide relevant information and not just to be noticed.