How to Befriend a Professor

Especially in a large lecture hall, befriending a professor can seem intimidating -- or downright impossible. However professors are human, and with a small effort you can form a rapport that can last long after graduation.


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    Sit in the front row. The most important factor in befriending a professor is distinguishing yourself from the other 300 people in your class. Moreover, sitting in the front row will help you pay attention and get more out of the class. Failing that, at least try to sit in the same place so the professor knows where you are.
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    Ask good questions. The central strategy of this wikiHow is to change your professor's image of you from "None" to "Valuable". Asking intelligent questions, properly related to the topic your professor is covering, not only helps him/her to see what more may be usefully added to the lecture, but also elevates you from a nameless face to a Person -- a person who is helping the professor with his/her job.
    • Even if they already answered your question and you didn't catch it, or didn't understand it, raising your hand during class to ask or even answer a question shows that you care about and are interested in the professor's work.
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    Attend office hours. This is your chance to talk to the professor one-on-one. Not only will you be able to ask questions that show that you've done all the reading and gave the subject thought, but you can let the professor know you: your interests, why you're taking the class, your specific interests in the subject. Also, other students can ask questions, and you can ask follow up questions that may lead to a real discussion.
    • Try to go in with at least one pertinent question, so that it doesn't seem that you are there for no reason at all.
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    Say hello to your professor when you see him/her around campus or in the hallways. Just a friendly nod, smile, or wave will do the trick. Nothing too intrusive, but an acknowledgment outside of class means that you recognize them as a person and an individual, and not just a teacher. This means a lot to a professor, and is probably one of the most important things that you could possibly do to substantiate your friendship.
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    If the professor makes announcements during class about lectures on campus or other events, go to those events whenever possible. Often, these announcements are made because these lectures will enrich your experience of the class and add to your knowledge of the topic. By attending those lectures, you'll show your professor that you are willing to put in extra effort.
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    Attend class regularly. If you are sick, or can't make it to class for a "good reason," send the professor a brief email apologizing for your absence in advance. This reminds your professor that you consider the class important.
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    Hold on to the syllabus from the day you get it until the day you see your final grade for the course. That's your contract for how you will be getting your grade. Lots of important stuff is in there, like procedures for missed assignments and how you will be graded. If you go to talk with your professor, and you ask a question which the syllabus has already answered, the professor's opinion of you is going to drop. And if you can say, over a grade dispute, "But it says in the syllabus--" you've usually won your case.
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    If there's something in the news related to something you discussed in class send it to the professor. They might not know about it and find it really fascinating.
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    Pay attention. This may sound simple, but professors can tell when people aren't listening in class or not doing the reading. If you spend all your time in class listening to your iPod or Instant Messaging your friends on a handheld device, the professor may just find you a hopeless case not worth spending extra time with.


  • Go to office hours early in the quarter/semester. This gives you a chance to build up a relationship over time, and consistently go.
  • Depending on your level, interests, and the nature of the university, it is worth asking if that professor or another in the department wants a student researcher. Even large universities with many graduate students take undergraduate research assistants. This takes a lot of time and is probably unpaid, but you will learn a lot, likely become well-known in the department, and perhaps have your name included in a publication. All these are ideal if you ever wish to attend a graduate program!
  • Demonstrating extraordinary skill or interest in the class can get the attention of some instructors and be great ice breakers. Little things that show you care about the class can mean a great deal (to the point it may make an instructor weep with joy or at least impart a measure of glee) to a professor whose job is often thankless.
  • Some professors don't believe in "befriending" their students, but that doesn't mean they won't pay attention to you. Don't expect a professor to invite you to their house or tell you all about their life.
  • Be humble. You are the student, and they are the professor. They are teaching you for a reason - they know more than you. Arrogance is a turnoff. Don't make them feel as though they need to argue with you.


  • Be particularly careful when following this advice in a University in England. English University culture is very different from that in America and elsewhere, and attempting to befriend a lecturer is even more likely to give you the negative stigma associated with being a 'teacher's pet'.
  • Avoid getting too personal or being too clingy. It's tempting to go over the top when trying to get the approval/friendship of a professor because for some reason students often view their professors as distant and hard to reach, so they overcompensate. This can scare a professor off, especially if they are of the opposite sex and are not sure of your intentions
  • Following this advice may come at the expense of making it difficult to befriend other students in the class.
    • It is all-but-impossible to interact with other students during class time in the front row. For a large lecture that does not have small break-out or discussion sections, it will be necessary for you to put extra effort into getting to know other students. On the other hand, it may be easier to get to know other students who sit in the front row and/or who also pay close attention in class; surrounding yourself with those who share your goals and interests in likely to improve your performance.
    • Some students do not appreciate and may even become hostile towards other students who ask questions in class. These students may feel that questions are extraneous and deviate from the professor's intended message. Although it is impossible (and unnecessary) to placate all of these students, both them and the professor will appreciate you keeping questions on-topic during class; questions that deviate too greatly from the material covered are best saved for office hours.

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