The Daily Gamecock

Column: Invest in faculty relationships

Early on, I learned that the key to success in college is talking to your professors.

When I first enrolled here, graduation seemed unreachable. My imposter syndrome told me it was only a matter of time before I lost my footing and fell flat on my face. To my surprise, however, this moment never came. In fact, I’ve managed to navigate my college years with grace and succeed to a degree I didn’t think possible. I attribute this success to developing relationships with my professors.

When I took University 101 my first semester, it was required that every student take a professors out to lunch. I was nervous that I was underperforming in my formal logic class, so I got lunch with my professor, Dr. John Ceballes. 

When we met in Russell House, I was hesitant to air my concerns. However, after finding common interest in the music of Bon Iver and the writing of David Foster Wallace, I felt comfortable telling him that I was anxious about his class. To my relief, he assured me that I had nothing to worry about, I was doing just fine. He said that if I did start struggling, he was always around to help. This was just the encouragement I needed to ace the class.

If U101 hadn’t required this, I probably would have been too timid to pursue it independently and my grades would have suffered as a result. Harvard professor Anthony Abraham Jack, says that this is precisely the dilemma he sees today. “The students who are least likely to go to office hours are the students who would benefit from them the most.” 

He argues that students who avoid meeting with their professors are not only handicapping their academic performance, but also missing out on a myriad of opportunities. “You gain access to a professor's support,” Jack says, “for adventures and experiences that you may not even know about."

The benefits of meeting with your professors extend even past graduation. Ellen Bremen, tenured communications studies faculty at Highline Community College, argues that by having “correct communication [with your professors], you’ll have an incredible opportunity in college to not only improve your classwork, but also build a relationship with someone who could become a long-lasting mentor.” 

I speak from personal experience when I say that building relationships with your professors early on in your college career continues to reap benefits years down the road. I know that if I need career advice, a letter of recommendation or just want to talk about books and music, I always have professors I can rely on.

College is hard enough on its own. It’s even harder when you try to get through it alone. To all of you struggling in class, make an effort to talk to your professors. Take advantages of programs like “out-to-lunch,"  which allows students to take professors to lunch for free. It’s a minuscule gesture that can have astronomical pay off.


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