Nothing beats one-on-one time with your professor


Even though emailing professors is convenient, it is not the only thing that will enhance your college career. Face to face communication is very important.

Looking back to freshman year of college, I don’t think I got to know my professors well.

My philosophy professor was a little intimidating and my math professor confused me. When I talked to them personally, though, I noticed that my academic performance improved. When I took ENGL 207 with English instructor Laura Bird, I found it easier to talk to her over time. She feels that face to face communication between professors and students is important to establish good comfort level.

“Freshmen are often quite intimidated by somebody who has a doctorate in front of their name,” Bird said. “I think [using office hours] would help them to get over that, and going to see a professor would be a good way of bridging the gap.”

In addition to office hours serving as an advantage for freshmen, Bird also thinks that it would help upperclassmen get recommended for jobs.

However, she has various views regarding the use of email. She had one situation where a student missed class several times and sent her informal emails without a valid excuse. However, she feels that students should use email for simple issues or quick questions.

English professor Sean Shesgreen agrees that students should use office hours more. He feels that it is important to get to know professors. He has seen how students’ grades improve when he helped a student think of a topic for her paper, she earned a B.

“It’s much harder to get a D or an F from somebody you know, even if you know him or her from an office visit,” Shesgreen said. Like Bird, Shesgreen feels that students who come to his office would feel comfortable talking to him. He feels that the contents of his office help.

“I have pictures of my two daughters, Juliette and Deirdre, and of my wife. These [things] make me more human to students,” Shesgreen said. Still, Shesgreen admits that the use of office hours has not been good for some people. Some of the things he said to them sparked tears. Having brought up an issue about something he said, though, I feel that it helps improve communication.

Shesgreen still favors the use of office hours over email.

“[Using office hours] allows for interaction that is personal, and it allows for give and take,” Shesgreen said. While faculty like Shesgreen and Bird encourage the use of office hours, Kristen Gossen, senior elementary education major, feels that email would be more beneficial.

“I think email does just fine because it gets right to the point,” Gossen said. “You don’t have to spend so much time trying to get one answer.” While Gossen feels that other students could use office hours to ask about a grade or to feel more comfortable in a lecture hall, she doesn’t think that they are necessary for her. For recommendations, Gossen feels that she would use an outside source, not a professor.

“I would probably get recommendations from my boss or someone that sees me outside of the classroom ‘cause that’s a totally different mentality,” Gossen said. Even though Gossen doesn’t see a point in getting to know professors, I have seen how professors can help students’ career paths. They really do help with recommendations for jobs.

Some of my journalism professors encouraged me to apply for the Northern Star. That’s because I got to know them personally, and I talked to them about it. Even though I would have applied had I not brought it up to them, I don’t think I would have had as much support.

I believe that the personal connections you have with professors do help you down the road. Sometimes, you don’t realize it until something good happens.