I know that for many students, it is very scary and intimidating for them to communicate with their professors. I know you might feel that as well. Hence, many people might try to avoid contact with their professors at all cost. But what would you do if you have some questions to ask your lecturer? It would be a good idea to talk to your professors and seek their advice frequently. This is a good chance for them to remember you, which is definitely helpful when you want them to write you a reference letter later.

While it is normal for all of us to feel nervous when we have to speak to our professors, there are certainly many ways and tips you can use to communicate with them effectively and efficiently. Scroll down for these tips as well as other things that you should do before and after you talk to your professors.

communicate with professors

Make sure you contact the right person

Sometimes there are problems that you can only ask your professors. The student services department can help you deal with your problem so make sure you ask the right person.

Usually, apart from lectures conducted by professors or senior lectures, there are workshops and seminars designed to help you gain more insights on a topic. So make sure that you ask these tutors running the tutorials and workshops first if you don’t understand a matter in your subject.

For any question that is not really about the subject material but something like how you can check for grades, deadlines or assessment guidelines, you can seek help from your student services department.

Last but not least, there are some common questions for which answers have been provided. You should check in your student handbook, course syllabus, and class policies first before you decide to ask other people.

Decide on the communication methods

You can choose to communicate via email or come to your professor’s offices during their office hours. You can also talk to your professor right away after each lecture.

Choose the methods which are convenient for you or the method which the professors state that they prefer.

communicate via email if you're too scared

Communicating via email might be the best option if you are too scared. However, talking to your professors face to face will be quicker for you and help you to clarify your concern effectively. You don’t have to book and wait for your slot if you come to talk to your professors right away after the lecture. However, some of them are so busy that they don’t have the time or even feel uncomfortable if you ask them right after they finish the lecture.

More details about how to write an appropriate email to your professors

If you choose to talk to your professors via email, here are a few things that you should do:

  • Make sure that your email is formal with respectful language. Address them with the right title, whether it is Dr. or Professor.
  • In the email, remember to introduce yourself including your name, your student number and the course that you go to.
  • Prevent writing a long email. Your professors have to read a huge number of emails each day. A shorter and concise email will surely get a response quicker.
  • When you finish writing your email, read it all over again to make sure that your questions are clear and cause no misunderstandings. Also, proofread your email to make sure there is no typo.
  • After you receive the answers of your professors for your questions, remember to send a thank you letter.

More details about how to talk directly to the professors

  • If you have long questions and want to discuss your performance, it is best to book an appointment with your professors during their office hours. Book early so that you have time to prepare for what you are going to speak to your professors.
  • If you cannot come to any established office hours, you should email your professor and ask about the other time that you can come.
  • In case you want your professors to review your essays, send these papers to them before you come to meet them.
  • Write down the main points as well as the main questions that you want to talk to your professors.
  • Practice talking the main points to yourself in the mirrors. You can also practice the questions with your friends.
  • When you come to see the professors, remember to bring along with you the relevant materials. For example, if you are going to ask about your essay, make sure to bring a copy of your paper for the professor to have a look at it. In case you want to ask about the materials in your subject, bring the books or the relevant materials such as slides or journals.
  • Make sure that you come to your professors’ office on time. They might have other people waiting for them or other things to do later. If you know that you will be late, or in case you wouldn’t be able to come at all, you should call your professors or send a quick email to let them know.
  • You should also take notes about the meetings with you and your professors. Prepare a pen and a notebook before you come.
  • In case you are asking the professors to review or provide feedback for your essay, be ready for constructive feedbacks.
  • After the meeting with your professors, you should send a thank you letter to him or her. In the email, you should state that you appreciate the time and effort that the professors have spent to talk to you and answer your questions.

Provided that you have a quick question about the materials that have been taught during the lecture, you can directly ask your professors after the lecture ends. Make sure that you would ask short questions only. Be ready for constructive feedback and don’t forget to say thank you.

Overall, there are three main ways you can use to talk to your professors including sending email, meeting in the professors’ office or talking after the lectures end. You should think about your needs as well the professors’ preference before choosing the most suitable methods. Prepare your questions carefully and show respects to your professors both during and after the meetings. If you are able to do so, I am sure that the professors will have a good impression of you.

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