Four Student Behaviors That Will Endear You to Professors
Want to make the grade as a student, make your professor happy? Attend all classes, sit toward the front of the classroom, participate in class, and meet deadlines.
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Do you care about making a good impression on your professors? You should if you want good grades. Grading can be highly subjective; as much as professors try to be objective, it is the rare instructor who is not subtly and psychologically influenced by student behavioral factors that relate only peripherally to graded assignments. Here are four positive behaviors that can favorably affect the ways professors view you -- and grade you:
1. Go to class (and be on time). Duh. A real no-brainer. But I've discovered that, because college students have for the first time in their academic lives the real freedom to choose whether or not to go to class, they tend to use that freedom to the fullest. Quite simply, if you want good grades, go to class.
Attending class not only assures that you won't miss important material but that you will make a good impression on your teacher. Every class you miss lowers your credibility in your professor's eyes. You could miss lots of classes and still turn in a decent paper or project at the end of the semester, yet your poor attendance could very well prejudice your instructor in grading the assignment. Worse, you could achieve good grades on individual tests and assignments despite your many absences, but if your professor assigns points for attendance, you could seriously damage your good average. Be sure, too, that you know your professor's attendance policy.
Still not convinced you should go to class? Try pro-rating your tuition costs per class and figure out how much each missed class costs you or your parents.
2. Go to the head of the class. Sit in the front of the class. If you're going to attend class, you might as well make sure your professor sees you. That notion might sound like pure brown-nosing, but studies have shown that those who sit in the front row -- and on the right side of the classroom -- tend to achieve better grades. Even if you're not as nearsighted as I am, sitting in the front will enhance your view of the whiteboard or chalkboard, PowerPoint slides, or other visual aids.
3. Participate in class. Another way to achieve visibility and impress instructors is to ask questions, answer questions, and join in discussions. Nothing is more disheartening to a professor that what I call the "Glazed-Over Undergraduate Syndrome," in which the instructor tries to get a discussion going, and the entire class just sits there looking bored or hungover. Yes, it takes a lot of guts to rise above the fear of asking a stupid question or appearing to be a geek or brown-noser. Even just smiling, looking attentive, and nodding will signal to your professor tyhat you are at least paying attention. But your professor will thank you and likely reward with a better grade than the rest of your somnambulant classmates if you also verbally participate. Some professors even award points or give grade consideration for class participation. Again, be sure you know the policies.
4. Meet deadlines. Professors find it tiresome to deal with the constant parade of students who turn in late assignments or continually ask for extensions on papers. Once a teacher has graded a batch of papers, it is a major inconvenience to go back and grade the same assignment submitted at a later time. If you're one who never misses a deadline, you'll make a favorable impression on your instructor. If you can even beat a deadline, you'll really stand out from the crowd. Turning in an assignment early is often to your advantage, but only if the assignment is complete and not a rush job just to beat the deadline.
Avoid asking for an extension except in extremely extenuating circumstances. Be honest if you can't meet a deadline; professors are tired of hearing about dying grandparents. Remember, though, that most professors deduct points for late papers, even when they have granted extensions. Other professors refuse to accept late assignments at all.
Final Thoughts on Endearing Student Behaviors
Learn more about these and other positive behaviors in our article 10 Tips for Proper Classroom Etiquette, and, on the flip side, review negative behaviors in our article, 10 Negative Behaviors That Can Affect Your Grade.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key academic terms by going to our College Success Glossary.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for EmpoweringSites.com, including MyCollegeSuccessStory.com. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). She curates, crafts, and delivers compelling content online, in print, on stage, and in the classroom. Visit her personal Website KatharineHansenPhD.com or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)astoriedcareer.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.