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How Not to Be the Teacher’s Pet

Classes have only just started, and you probably haven’t done much, except maybe go over the syllabus. Maybe you’ve introduced yourself to the professor, or maybe you’ve just sat hidden in the back of class. Regardless, you want to do well in the course. That doesn’t mean that you need to answer every question or attend every office hour to impress the professor. There are many good ways to show you’re interested without doing too much. After all, no one likes a teacher’s pet, especially professors themselves.

Here are some tips to stay on your professor’s good side without going overboard.

  1. Sit where you can be noticed, but don’t stand out too much. Someone has to sit front and center, but you don’t have to be that person every day. You want the professor to notice you and see that you’re engaged and paying attention, but you don’t need to be overly zealous. You don’t want everyone in the class to think you’re a suck-up. 
  2. Be thoughtful. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget about this one. Don’t answer the question if you don’t know the answer. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to be “right” all the time, but when you answer a question, be able to confidently backup and elaborate on what you have to say. You want to be adding value to the course. Having an opinion is good thing; speaking just to be heard is not.
  3. 3. Don’t go to office hours if you don’t need help. Not only will you be wasting your own time, but you’ll be wasting the professor’s time and taking time away from people who need assistance. This will indefinitely make everyone involved frustrated. Obviously if you need help on something, you should go see the professor either by making an appointment or attending his/her office hours. If you’re going to see a professor, be early. Remember: it’s first come first serve. 

So what are some good things to do?

  1. Establish a relationship. You don’t need to be best friends with a professor, but being comfortable with him or her will make it easier for you to ask for help, recommendations, or excused absences. 
  2. Be on time. This is not only in regards to physically getting to class on time, it also means you should meet all your deadlines. That being said, professors do understand that things come up. So if you foresee a problem with a deadline, go to the professor early (not the night before it’s due) and ask for an extension. 
  3. Take your classes seriously. While you don’t need to sit there with a stone face, class isn’t a great time to tell your friend about your night before or laugh out loud as you peruse the Internet. 

If you can strike a balance between being likeable, but not overly ambitious, and making an effort without overwhelming the entire class, your academic experience will be far more enjoyable. Doing those things might just make that professor give you an A- instead of that B+.

Brett is a senior at Colby College. She is an international studies and anthropology double major, and spent her first semester of college in Dijon, France.  She enjoys writing, traveling, Gossip Girl, and Thai food. Already having interned at fashion designers and magazines, she is excited to contribute to Her Campus! She is also a certified personal trainer and loves working out.
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