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5 Ways to Talk to Your Professors

You can imagine the painfully awkward conversation of asking your professor for a letter of recommendation or inquiring about a failing grade when he or she barely knows who you are. Communication with professors should take place on a frequent and consistent basis. Asking for letters of recommendation, job references, or academic help towards the end of the semester is a cinch when you’ve already established that relationship. Below are five types of conversations to have with your professors during their office hours that will impress and help spark meaningful, professional relationships.

  1. The “Just Saying Hi” Talk - Stop by to just say hi at the beginning of the semester to introduce yourself, or anytime you’re in the vicinity. This helps keep you on the professor’s radar and helps to initially establish a relationship.

  2. The “My Two Cents” Talk - Continue a conversation from class with a professor. Add something you thought of to the discussion or bring up a current event that relates to the topic. This shows the professor you are interested in their material and the field in general.

  3. The “Inquiring Minds Want to Know” Talk - Many professors have research projects that they are currently working on in their field. Ask the professor about what they’re working on. Showing interest in their expertise definitely sets you apart.

  4. The “A Little Assistance Please” Talk - Professors are there to help you. Stop by to ask for help with classroom assignments. If you don’t need any help, you can ask for clarification on the guidelines or expectations specified for the particular project.

  5. The “What do you Think” Talk - Share your goals with your professor. Ask them for career advice. They can serve as free consultants for you and help guide you on your next steps. These conversations tell your professors that you are ambitious and goal oriented.

When you regularly stop by during your professors’ office hours, they will begin to organically see your work ethic, reputation among colleagues, drive, curiosity, and ambition. These qualities speak volumes, and your professors will do everything they can to help you reach your goals. The return will be well-worth the effort.

For more information on how to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your professors, visit Also, check out episode 4 of Acing The Undergrad: The Show, “The Office Hour,” on YouTube.

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