Get to know your professors

By Corrie Coleman | Reporter

I get it: talking to professors can be scary.

I know that going to office hours or even answering questions in class is intimidating for many students. However, I also know that pushing myself to do these very things has shaped my time at Baylor in ways I never anticipated. The relationships I have built with my professors have impacted the way I view my education, my career goals and even myself. All students can benefit, both academically and personally, from making the extra effort to build relationships with their professors.

The first reason you should get to know your professors is that they’re engaging and knowledgeable people who have had interesting experiences. Many of them have published books, done research or worked for successful companies. For example, my design professor created the Waco “W” you see on hats, T-shirts and even manhole covers. My videography professor helped make the special features on “Finding Nemo.” Take the time to hear about their lives and passions. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

Also, getting to know your professors can help you succeed in class. If you take the time to ask them questions outside of class or go by their office for help, you’ll probably have a better grasp on the material. If you do poorly on a test, set up a time to ask for advice for the next test. Last semester, I showed my English professor the first draft of my final paper a week before it was due. He helped me see that I had misunderstood the prompt and explained how to better answer his question. Baylor professors really do want to see you succeed; you just have to make the first step.

My professors have also helped me find jobs, scholarships and internships. They have written letters of recommendation and character references for me every semester. Because I take the initiative to get to know them, they are able to write more personalized recommendations. Instead of just talking about me as a student, they are able to provide a more full picture of me as a person. When I apply for internships or scholarships, these details add a human element that can make my application stand out.

These relationships don’t have to end when the semester does. I still visit some professors’ offices to ask them questions or just to catch up.

It is critical to have mentors in the field you are pursuing. When professors know you well, they can help you develop your goals and achieve them. My photography professors have helped me discover my skills and pinpoint my weaknesses. My English professors have shown me new ways of thinking that impact my understanding of the events and people around me. Conversations with my business professors have cultivated in me confidence and determination. I hate to think what I would have missed if I had been too shy or too busy to build these relationships.

I get it: talking to professors can be scary. But it’s so worth it.

Corrie Coleman is a senior journalism major from Dallas.