Establishing a connection with your professor

May 18, 2020 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Here five easy steps for building a professional relationship with your professor.

Tips for building a professional relationship with professors

A common misconception of online learning is that it’s difficult to develop a relationship with your professors. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. For many students, connecting with a professor can actually be easier and more effective – especially for those students who may not feel comfortable speaking up in a group environment, such as the course discussion board. When choosing an online program, it’s important to consider programs that provide the opportunity to easily communicate with course faculty. These connections offer clarification, detailed feedback and guidance when needed as well as provide opportunities to facilitate in-depth thinking through online discussions.

By nature, online degree programs are designed to allow for easy interaction with other students and faculty virtually. This in turn creates a greater sense of community and openness in the online classroom setting. Whether it be a chance to collaborate on an assignment, ask a meaningful question or simply receive a word of encouragement, connecting with peers and faculty can be essential to success in an online learning environment. Make the most of the knowledge and experience your professors have to offer by taking a few easy steps towards a more personal connection, such as:


1. Do a little footwork to set yourself up for success.

Digging into your instructor’s background, specialty and experience can shed light on relevant subjects and information that might be useful to your future assignments. By looking into these before your class begins and taking the opportunity to ask questions, via email or during a related discussion, you showcase your dedication while becoming more familiar with the topic at hand. This allows you to make the most of taking a course from that specific faculty member.


2. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.

ASU faculty invest their time, effort and attention into making all their classes (both in-person and online) beneficial and engaging for their students. It is extremely rewarding for professors when students take the time to introduce themselves, share what they are excited to learn and what their future ambitions are. This small but significant action allows you to feel comfortable asking questions and begins a beneficial, personal connection with your professor.


3. Be active within your course and make participation a priority.

In many classes, participation is part of the curriculum and grading system. Your ongoing engagement on the class forum will help your professors get to know you better and show them that you are engaged with what is happening in class. You can also participate by asking questions, which shows you are working hard to understand the material. By asking questions, you can ensure a clear understanding of course materials as you move to subsequent course work.


4. Seek counsel from your instructor for insight into a career.

As an expert in their field, professors can provide a great deal of knowledge and help to make connections to real world applications in a given field. To get helpful information on what it is like to enter an area of work and gain insight regarding which specific career path suits you, you can consult a professor. They may have information on your career’s employment rate and the projected job growth concerning a potential position to help you decide.


5. Build an ongoing relationship that surpasses the duration of the class.

If you’ve spent the session taking advantage of the above opportunities, a long-term connection with your professor should come naturally. To maintain this meaningful and beneficial relationship, stay connected and share any milestones you’ve hit. Professors are always excited to see the progress their students have made and how their courses were impactful to your future. When the time comes, you may need a letter of recommendation or a post-graduate job referral and you will be happy to have stayed in touch with your professors.

Building a valuable, professional relationship with your professor may take a little bit of work, but by going the distance, you will feel more connected to your career path. By making a concentrated effort, asking questions and taking time pick their brain, you can benefit from an ongoing relationship that will be helpful far beyond the course.


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