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College Professors are Human too: A Guide to Building Rapport with your Professors

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emory chapter.

One of the biggest things that I was worried about when transitioning into college was my professors. I was so concerned as to how they would run class, how accessible they would be, and how I would establish a great impression on them. Spending hours on ratemyprofessor before class registration was only fueled by the stereotype of professors in college being strict, unforgiving, and school obsessed. In all actuality, coming to college has made me realize the opposite: professors are humans too! A lot of the professors in college enjoy being involved in their students’ lives. They want them to succeed both in and out of school and often love being a part of that success. I only found this out when I took off the hierarchical lens and actually made an effort to get to know my professors as a person outside of school. For many people, the idea of getting to know professors outside of class may seem uncomfortable. This is where my five interactions come in on how to establish a rapport with your professors and be more than just another face in a 70 student class.

Office Hours:

For me personally, office hours are the most underrated tool for building a relationship with your professors. Recurrently going to office hours shows how dedicated you are to that class and your curiosity towards the subject matter– something which professors love and try to foster in their classes! The more you show your face outside of class, the more likely it is that your professors will notice you. This seems like common sense, but a lot of times students have an argument of how they don’t attend office hours because they don’t have any questions. Even though you may know all the subject material, going to office hours gives you an extra opportunity to establish an interaction with your professor in general (see conversation topics in the Lunch section below).


One on one appointments are incredibly helpful, especially if you cannot find time to make it to office hours. When I first started booking my own appointments, I was so intimidated by the one on one time with my professors. I kept thinking that they had better things to do than sit with an anxious student for an hour outside of class. Boy, was I proven wrong. My professors were so enthusiastic for meeting with me outside of class: when I say they want you to succeed, that’s where that sentiment comes from. Not only would I get my questions answered, but I also took advantage of the one on one time by talking about the class in general in terms of what we would be learning next, where my personal strengths/weaknesses were in the class, and even suggestions on how to improve the class from a student’s perspective. Not only did this show my commitment to that class, but it also allowed my professors to have a personal insight to how his students think, allowing to better cater the class towards them. Such an insight is what professors found incredibly valuable and could only be established by such one on one time. 


Several schools now a days have opportunities to take professors out to lunch in the school cafeteria or restaurant. Use this opportunity to get to know your teacher as a person! Although it may be intimidating, here are some conversation starters I used to make these lunches a bit less awkward:

  • What inspired you to study (insert major)?

  • Do you conduct any research in that area?

  • Why did you choose to teach at (insert school)?

  • If you could give your college graduating self one piece of advice, what would that be?

  • How are things different in (insert major) than they were when you were studying it?

  • What do you see in the future of (insert major)?

Try to keep this lunch more of a conversation, not an interview. Remember to go with the flow of the conversation; these questions are by no means a checklist of what you must ask from your professor!


Emails are by far one of the best ways to communicate with your professors. Whether it is a clarification question about a lecture or a concern about the class in general, emails are perfect to have an interaction with your professors without having a face to face meeting. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to meet with a professor in person, I would recommend starting off by emailing them.

Contact After Class is Over:

Any emphasis on this point is not enough: Do! Not! Forget! About! Your! Professors! After! The! Semester! Is! Over! The continued relationship you will build with your professors after class is something that will solidify all your hard work towards creating a relationship in the first place. As mentioned above, professors love to know about the updates and successes in your life… keep those well wishers as involved as possible! By simply sending an email or meeting with them for a half hour over coffee can allow for so much catching up… and it’s all worth it!

Building relationships with my professors is something that I am so proud of at college. I can easily say that I not only have succeeded in those specific classes, but I have also gained several mentors throughout those classes. With these steps, my relationships towards my professors have only gotten stronger!

Her Campus at Emory University
Hong Kong born and raised, Manishka is widely known for two things – her clumsiness and her ability to spend hours laughing at her own jokes! When she’s not busy trying to find out how she got her latest bruise, she can usually be found eating an avocado, while re-watching Gossip Girl for the 6th…no… 7th time! Her hobbies include raiding the fridge, stalking Doug the Pug on Instagram and trying to find out the secret ingredient in Krabby Patties.