A Conversation With Your Professor

by Bob Roth
The “College & Career Success” Coach

In order for college students to maximize their performance in the classroom, wise students take the time to learn about each professor. They know that each instructor has his/her own classroom needs and requirements. To approach each semester blindly can lead to great disappointment, even among those student who are serious about their success.

Let me share a recent exchange.

During an interesting but somewhat lengthy introduction, the Professor covered the class syllabus, reading materials, papers, presentations, tests and expectations. He ended his introduction by asking if anyone had questions. While most students packed up and got ready to leave the classroom, the professor ended with this comment.

Professor: We must work together. I have the knowledge and information about this subject that you need to understand and absorb. Therefore, my job is to make the information interesting and understandable. Your job is to learn and retain the information well enough to participate in discussions, answer questions, solve problems and effectively apply it in the real world.

One student raised his hand.

Student 1: “I want to do well in this class. What are some of the things that make students more successful in your classes?”

Professor: “Students who show interest are much more likely to do well. They come to class well prepared and ready to contribute. These students listen well, ask questions, participate in discussions, express opinions and pick up on or expand the ideas generated by others. They also contribute by helping to identify the concepts that are difficult, not clear or not fully understood. Students like this will help everyone in class.”

Student 1: “You mentioned a term paper earlier. What will you look for?”

Professor: “Term papers are very important because they represent the kind of work that may be required in the workplace. At one time or another, every graduate will have to write a report. Papers must be well researched and well written. Credit must always be given to the sources that are used: Bibliography, Footnotes, Citations and Quotes. However, quite often, the best papers include some original thinking or conclusions the student has drawn from his/her research.”

Student 1: “What about the tests you will give?”

Professor: “Test results will tell me a lot about each student. These results tell me how well you understood the material that was covered in class, in the reading materials and in the lab or elsewhere. These results reveal your knowledge, problem-solving skills and your ability to apply what you have learned. The best students anticipate the more difficult questions and do what is needed to prepare for them.”

Student 1: “I often become nervous when I stand in front of the class. What can I do to strengthen my presentations?”

Professor: “Preparation and practice are important. The material must be well researched and well practiced. You will be more confident when you know the presentation material cold. Additionally, you can reduce your nervousness by using a prop. This may be a powerpoint presentation, something you hold up, a demonstration or a volunteer from the class. These props will help you focus on what you are saying and doing, rather than simply standing in front of the class, staring at your classmates, all eyes upon you.”

Student 1: “Is there anything else I can do?”

Professor: “Become known to me in a positive way. Actively participate in class; and, talk with me after class. Tell me about your interests and your goals. Perhaps I can help you with information and contacts. You may even want to volunteer to help, in some way (Do some research for me, set up a lab, run errands and handle routine tasks).”

A knock on the classroom door.

Student 2: “Sorry I’m late! I overslept. These 8 a.m. classes are killers. Do we really need all of these books.? Nobody should have to read all . . . “

Students have the choice of doing or not doing the things that will propel them through college successfully and launch their careers. The most successful students not only strive to achieve good grades, they work hard to build mutually beneficial relationships with the professors who can provide networking contacts and enthusiastic references.

If you are in college today, you still have time. What kind of student are you becoming?

Visit Bob’s web site: www.The4Realities.com. Bob Roth is the author of The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College -and- The College Student’s Guide To Landing A Great Job.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of The College Student's Guide To Landing A Great Job -and- The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College. Known as The "College & Career Success” Coach, Bob also writes articles for nearly 200 College Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Additionally, Bob has developed 20 Self-Scoring Learning Tools that help college students find success. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs across the country and also by many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. Lastly, Bob serves as an Adjunct at Marist College, teaching a course in Career Development. www.The4Realities.com