Advice for College Students: 5 Things Your Professor Wants You to Know

by Heather Nelson

Starting college can come with a lot of uncertainty, but your ability to succeed in the classroom doesn’t have to be a point of worry.

When it comes to advice for college students, your professors know exactly what you need to do in order to thrive during your time on campus. Here are five tips that can help you hit the ground running.

1. Arrive With a Professional Mindset

Rather than seeing college as an extension of high school, see it as the beginning of your professional career. Don’t show up disheveled; come fed and feeling calm. In addition, be prepared to add to every discussion. Yes, even at your early morning classes!

When you walk into class the first day—and each day after—with the mindset of a professional, you’ll be preparing yourself for college and beyond.

2. Go to Class (Seriously)

You don’t know what you don’t know. And if you don’t go to your classes, you won’t know the course material. You’ve likely heard it before, but being “present” in class really matters. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things that students can do to help secure their diploma and ensure they graduate.

If you opt out of attending class, you might miss out on important things like studying tips, test prep, participation points, and, perhaps most importantly, the respect of your professors. Believe it or not, they remember when students don’t show up.

Ultimately, you’re paying to take these classes—so every class missed is money down the drain. Make sure you’re making the most of your investment.

3. Take Time to Say “Hello”

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your professors. Honestly, they want to know you. Your professors and faculty see themselves as mentors, and bringing out your potential is a highlight of the job.

“We see things in you that you can’t see yourself; we believe in you before you believe in yourself,” says Starla Anderson, JD, associate professor of communication studies at Azusa Pacific University. “I look for unique skills in students I encounter and coach it out of them. That brings me great joy.”

So, don’t feel as though visiting during office hours, asking to talk over a cup of coffee, or waving hello in the quad is a bother to your professors. It’s a vital part of the college experience. And remember, your professors will write your references and be the basis of your network after graduation; you want them to know and remember you.

4. Follow Directions

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is (or at least should be)!

It’s important to read through your assignments thoroughly so you know exactly what your professor expects. Twelve point font? Don’t try to sneak by with 11.5. Need five references? Then three simply won’t do.

Your professor thoughtfully crafts each assignment exactly how he or she wants it. So when you hand in work without following directions, you risk your grade. Always make sure you’re handing in an assignment that you—and your professor—will be proud of.

5. Remember to Ground Yourself

Taking the time to ground yourself during the weekend helps set you up for a successful school week. On Sundays, consider sitting down and reviewing your syllabus for the upcoming week, then plan ahead by rationing out the number of readings and assignments you need to complete each day. This helps you mentally prepare for the week ahead and identify wiggle room (should anything unexpected arise).

Your professors are eager to see you succeed. With fall classes just around the corner, it’s a good idea to heed this advice for college students. By doing so, you can be ready to tackle the school year as soon as you arrive on campus.

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