From academics, references, career choices, to networking, sharing a positive relationship with your professors is key to excelling here at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

However, many do not realize that these vital relationships are rooted during undergraduate years, and they set a strong precedent for us students’ futures. Our professors are very helpful resources, and developing a positive rapport with them can heavily strengthen our collegiate and “real world” success after college.  

It may be intimidating and outside your comfort zone, but introducing yourself to your professors is critical during the first few weeks of school.

Although we are a month into the semester, it’s never too late to visit your professors and acquaint yourselves with them. This not only demonstrates your high dedication to the class, but it shows them that you care about your studies and their particular course.

Essentially, going out of your way to greet your professors may seem like a small gesture, but it is an impactful and kind one that they will surely appreciate. 

Linda Gehron, assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said: “In my first year experience class, one of the main points I stress to my students is to make sure your interest in learning is evident to your professors.” For example, “utilize their office hours, reach out to them consistently, and prioritize communication.” Gehron said. Overall, fostering these beneficial academic relationships requires active participation from us students. 

Once your professor knows who you are as a student more personally, they have the ability to vouch for your credibility and character-- two major qualities that are evaluated in instances like job interviews and letters of recommendation.

“I have had many students reach out to me and ask for references for things like RA applications, or SGA positions. I like to think that I serve as a resource for my students outside of the classroom as well” Gehron said. 

Especially when thinking about opportunities and networking, professors know a wide range of people, and can connect you to important companies and figures outside of UTC.

When it comes to looking for graduate programs, internships, or even extra scholarships, being able to depend on your professors' help is a huge asset for us Mocs. 

Alongside the good nature of befriending your professors, the pandemic has led many professors to highly value in person classroom interactions.

Gehron said: “There is something to be said for teaching and learning in the same physical location. I think now more than ever professors want to build relationships with students.”

In order for us students to truly enrich our college years, we should strive to make connections with our professors, and remind ourselves that behind the podium or zoom camera, they too are people just like us, equipped to help their students.

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