Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lesson I: First Impressions

So you've gone through the course catalog and picked your classes, then you put down a small fortune down for books and supplies and now it’s the first day of class. Whether your name is engraved on the top of the dean's list or "academic probation" is a phrase your pretty familiar with, most college students know that being on good terms with a professor can make your life a lot easier. Like any other relationship your starting, the first impression will be what you are judged by, a bad one is hard to shake but a good one can leave a lasting impression. So how to make a good first impression? Just entry on this blog won't do the topic of good first impressions any form of justice but here are some of the basics.


1. Show up and be on time.
It was Woody Allen who said "eighty percent of success is just showing up" and he was right. College classes require that you show up and more importantly that you show up on time. Most professors find nothing more annoying than being interrupted by someone walking into their class twenty minutes after its already started or being told "I wasn't here last week, can you tell me what I missed?" It’s disrespectful and shows signs of immaturity. If you have trouble waking up early in the morning when the alarm clock goes off How to properly handle being absent from class is for another lesson.

2. Find out what is expected of you (and what you can expect from your professor.)
On the very first day most professors will hand out a syllabus explaining all the basics or they will tell you and expect you to remember. If he/she doesn't give you a syllabus then taking some notes wouldn't be a bad idea. In your notes be sure to include:

+ Ways to contact the professor (such as an office telephone number and/or e-mail address) incase something comes up and you need to get a hold of him/her.
+ The professor's office hours (not all professors will offer them so its good to find out if they do.) If you have more than just a few questions about an assignment or need some extra help this would be the time to ask.
+ The grading policy. How many tests or quizzes will you have? Do you have take home assignments or essays? How much of your grade is each thing worth? Most of this should be explained but if it’s then not be sure to ask so you can keep track of your progress throughout the semester.
+ If there are any required readings or extra materials. Some professors may ask that in addition to your textbook you purchase additional books as required readings for the class (often the case for English and literature courses) or some additional supplies for laboratory/clinical courses (such is the case for many students in healthcare related majors.)


3. Act like you care (even if you don't.)
When you’re in class you should look like you want to be there (even if you don't want to) and show the professor some basic respect. Just try to imagine that you’re the one who has to stand up and teach the entire class. If the students aren't looking at you and are talking to each other while your speaking or are on their cell phones then you would consider it pretty rude right? Well that's exactly how your professor feels. Basically, you should turn off your cell phone (or put it on vibrate) and keep it in your pocket, look at the professor and don't talk unless you've been called on and finally pull out a notebook and at least pretend to be taking some notes. Whether you want to pay attention is your business (although I would since your paying to be there) but this way your not disrupting the rest of the class and your not being openly rude to the professor.

4. Be prepared.
It’s a simple enough concept. If your supposed to have read a selection before class to be able to discuss a the topic during class then do it. If have an essay due in two weeks, then you better make sure you have it ready in two weeks. Not being prepared for class only makes you appear immature and it can also make it difficult to understand what the professor is talking about when they move on to more difficult concepts. Not to mention you will look pretty stupid if you’re called on to answer a question on something you should know but have no clue about.

5. If your interested in the subject then show it!
Its just a fact that your not going to enjoy every class that you take, so for some your just going to have to do the work and hope it goes by quickly. But hopefully there should be at least a few of the classes you take that you will enjoy and are interested in taking. If you are interested in the subject or the way the professor teaches it then you should show it. Participate in discussions (if there are any), do some extra research on a topic and ask questions that promote further discussion and thought (just don't ask questions that have already been answered or aren't relevant to the topic.)

6. Make yourself stand out
Unless you have a professor who only teaches one class (which sometimes happens) then your professors are likely to have a lot of students (especially if your in a lecture hall with hundreds of students each class.) Its a fact that not every professor will notice you, many of them probably won't know you as anything more then a student ID number and that's the best your going to get out of them. But if your lucky enough to be in a small class then you have a good chance you will be known by name (or nickname.) If you are usually the first one to class, the last one to leave or one of those people who asks really good questions it will be a lot easier to be remembered. Just make sure your not remembered for the wrong reasons.

7. Don't be annoying.
Don't become the person that your classmates (and secretly the professor too) peg as an annoying person. Annoying people tend to be easier students to remember than the not annoying ones (and that's not a good thing.) Try not to become one of these "types" of annoying students:

The "Know-It-All" -- This person may do any of the following things: Asking questions that they end up answering themselves, contradicting the professor whenever they have the chance, answering every question asked before anyone else has a chance.

The "Well this one time..." Person -- This person feels that every discussion warrants a long, personal story from their life (most of the time it will have little to do with what's actually being discussed and wastes a lot of time.)

The "Yup/Nope" Person -- This person needs to constantly confirm what the professor is saying by adding "Yup", "Yea", "Nope" or "No" as if to say that their personal approval will somehow add to the lesson.

The "Will This Be Graded?" Person -- This person will constantly ask any of the following questions: "Is this being graded?", "Will this affect my GPA?", "Is there any extra credit?", "Is this on the exam?" or "Will you point out what will be on the exam?"

The Drama Queen -- This person makes it their priority to be overly vocal about their opinion on everything (even when no one else asks for it) and to ensure that everybody else realizes their presence. The "drama queen" may also have some of the same characteristics as the other annoying personalities.



Those are the basic rules to making a good first impression with a professor. If you can think of anything else that should be added to this list by all means make a comment or send me an e-mail and I will put it up.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.