Two Tips on How to Communicate with College Professors

by Betty Lochner on October 26, 2012

Here are two tips on how to make your college experience more successful by focusing on how to communicate more effectively with your college professors.

Tip 1: Attendance is important.

Many new college students get the false impression that college is unsupervised and attendance is optional.  In a way this is true.  Professors rarely take roll call.  But if you read your syllabus for each course carefully, you will be shockingly surprised to learn how many professors include a participation piece in your overall semester grade.  Every point counts when you’re shooting for a top grade, and that piece, no matter how small, can make the difference.  Most college professors have their PhD s, meaning they aren’t stupid.  They know when you’re there and when you are not; don’t delude yourself into thinking they won’t notice, because they will.

So what is the best method for communicating with your professor if you are going to miss a class?

Here are three recommendations:

1) Get a good rapport going with your professor prior to an emergency, such as the start of the term.  This way they can begin to know you more as a person than as just another student, and hopefully they will be more lenient with you in the future.

2)  Learn how each professor prefers to communicate.  This sounds silly, but is vital.  If you send a professor an email and you come to find out that he or she only checks their inbox once a month, this could be a problem for future correspondences.  So learn how they like to be reached.

3) Don’t be shy.  Don’t be nervous about visiting your professor during their office hours.  This is their job, to teach you and to help you. So go say hi and continue building that relationship.

Tip 2: Get Help on your College Essay Before you Turn it in.

Another important piece to the college experience is the dreaded essay writing.  There are many techniques out there to help make your essay stronger: drafts, tutors, rewriting, editing, more tutors, and so on.

Once you have established a decent copy, schedule an appointment with your professor to have them take a look at it.  Open a dialogue. Ask them if this is what they are looking for and if they think you’re headed in the right direction.  Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, this simple act shows your professor, who might not have known otherwise, that you are trying to do a good job and care about the professor’s assignments.  Come grading time, this small meeting could be the difference between an “A” and the dreaded “A minus.”

At the very least, have your professor glance at each paper prior to its deadline.

Happy studying!

S.W. Hornbrook


Mount Rainier Hike 2011About the author: Seth Hornbrook was a Saint Martin’s University student studying creative writing.  He originally wrote this guest post in January 2011.  He was my beloved nephew. He was valiant in his attempts to lead a  happy and fulfilling life while dealing with mental illness and its effects.  Seth took his life on October 15, 2012. He was 31.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:




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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joye Eddlemon April 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

2 Kristyn Hissong February 24, 2011 at 5:48 am

Gold! you save my day 😉

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