Friends, students, countrymen and women,
My name is Erin and I hope over the course of this school year, I can be a source of knowledge, entertainment, and perhaps escape as you procrastinate over a final paper.
Making a good first impression, or any impression at all, on your professor can be tricky. Especially when you are in a class with 399 other students. I generally think that students believe class participation is the only way we can interact and make an impression on our professors. After participating in class, we think the next best option is making a beeline to the professor after class to speak to him or her. When I see students do this (once I saw a dozen disgruntled students form a solid circle around a professor after he had given their papers back because they were unsatisfied with their marks and sought an explanation), I just shake my head. It was 9 p.m. and he had just finished splattering his brains out in a three-hour evening class about Shakespeare’s Rome. I imagine most of us, including the professor, just want to escape the classroom at that time of night.
Fellow students, these are both standard and highly normative ways to interact with your professors. However, I propose you think outside of the box and step into the spotlight by visiting your professor during office hours. Every professor advertises them on their syllabus, check it out.
You’d be surprised to learn that professors are more than happy to see their students during the designated office hours outlined on the course syllabus. I mean, it’s part of their job. You’d be even more surprised to discover that approaching a professor privately isn’t as intimidating and socially awkward as you may expect.
In my first year, I remember being confused about what a professor expected on an assignment and visiting her office. Her door was shut so I gently rapped on the frosted glass, as though I was about to awaken a monster from its slumber. I was wrong of course. She was not sleeping. And she was also not a monster.
In fact, she welcomed me into her office, explained exactly what she wanted and gave me three books to read during the summer. I spent about thirty minutes with her and our conversation not only focused on the assignment and course expectations but novels she wished we had the time to study, independent bookstores and how television networks aimed at women are programmed to be insulting (does anyone in their right mind really want to subject themselves to Maid in Manhattan on a Friday night?). That visit not only made the ambiguous assignment more clear but reminded me that my professor was human and actually had a wicked sense of humour.
Another experience I had was trying to find a professor’s office located in the “Angel’s Roost” at Trinity College. Being a Trin student, I assumed I knew the college well enough. However, I managed to climb too many stairs, bypass a security system and found myself wandering around a random student dormitory. Eventually, I found the remote office, located in a nook and cranny on a top floor across from Trinity College Chapel (hence the name, Angel’s Roost). That was a time when the journey turned out to be just as interesting as the destination because I discovered an area of my college that I didn’t know existed.
So now that I’ve told you the best-kept secret (visit your professor during office hours!), I encourage you to try it yourself and spread the word. And please, leave a comment, I’d love to hear your first impressions of my post!
A mysterious staircase leading up to the Angel’s Roost (and a few professors’ offices).
An Angel’s Roost with a view.