Why it’s important to form meaningful relationships with your professor during COVID and how to do that virtually
Author: Julia Raczek
For college students, the COVID-19 virus has made the transition to a new normal particularly challenging. Universities across the country switched to remote classes for the fall semester as the COVID-19 threat became increasingly pervasive.
This decision was intended to prioritize the health and wellbeing of both students and faculty by alleviating the anxiety and stress surrounding the virus. As the semester goes on, however, students are experiencing unprecedented challenges surrounding virtual courses. Whether it be overwhelming anxiety about staying healthy or remaining engaged in virtual classes, student life is not what it was.
While virtual learning poses several challenges for students, especially those nearing the end of their college career, a way to alleviate post-graduation stress and combat a lack of motivation is by establishing a connection with professors. Fostering a professional relationship with those in your field has invaluable benefits.
- Close Bonds Facilitate Deeper Learning
A switch to virtual classes has caused students to feel less motivated and engaged with their courses. While losing interest in schoolwork is not unique to remote learning, it is more prominent than ever before. To counteract these feelings, students should seek guidance and support from their professors. Not only will this reflect well on the student by showcasing their work ethic and dedication, but it also allows the professor to reexplain the challenging aspects of their lesson. Many students taking courses that do not translate well on a virtual platform may worry that their grades will suffer if remote classes continue. Upper-class students nearing the end of their college career cannot afford to disengage from their academic responsibilities and risk lowering their grade point average.
Being transparent with your professor about the topics you are struggling with can counteract the challenges of zoom lectures. So, whether it is via email, office hours, or during a related discussion, reaching out to your professor promotes understanding of greater depth.
Beyond the classroom, it is the students that went out of their way to engage in course material that the professor is likely to remember an opening for a professional opportunity arises. As the ones who often nominate their students for awards and academic societies, professors play an instrumental role in paving the way for students’ success.
For those considering graduate school, law school, or even starting the job search, this is a crucial time in your college career for making connections with professors. These connections are imperative for potential reference letters or establishing mentor relationships that solidify interest in your field. The professors of your upper-level courses have an entire network of people in their field that they can put you in contact with. This makes them valuable resources when it comes to navigating post-graduate plans.
- Career Opportunities
As an expert in their given field, professors have the experience and wherewithal to point you in the right direction in terms of fellowships, internships, resource opportunities, or job openings. Especially for those who have yet to sort out their plans after graduation, a trusted professor is a valuable first stop for questions about career options. When it comes time for gathering references for post-graduation applications, a professor from an accredited university far outweighs the opinions of close family and friends. If students do not make the effort to build a professional, personal relationship with a teacher, a professional may deny the request to write the letter. This makes it all the more important for students to go out of their way to leave a lasting, positive impression throughout the semester.
Here are some strategies on how to get to know your professor and take advantage of the resources and advice they have to offer.
- Office Hours: Especially if lectures are held asynchronously, might be the only opportunity to get to know your professors. Conducted from the comfort of your own home, remote office hours are essential when it comes to getting to know your professor on a one-on-one basis.
- Participating during class: Another strategy for currying favour arises during the discussion and lecture portion of the class. Whether it be asking for clarification or contributing during discussions, vocalizing your thoughts show engagement. This makes it more likely that a professor will remember your face.
- Let the professor see your smiling face!: While some professors may not require it, choosing to turn on your camera during synchronous zoom meetings is the easiest way to initiate a student to professor relationship. It may be more convenient to stay in bed with the camera off while the professor talks but turning on your camera and looking presentable is an indication of professionalism and respect. For upper-class students about to enter the workforce, professionalism is an important trait that will resonate with future employers.
Whether or not you have experienced similar challenges due to the pandemic, it is clear that the virus has permeated nearly all aspects of our lives.
While anxiety surrounding COVID-19 is real and valid, do not let stress about performing well in your classes overwhelm you.
To alleviate this stress, Edumeister makes learning easier while helping students improve grades and further their career prospects.