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How much do you guys correspond with your professors outside of class

  1. Sep 17, 2005 #1
    I always want to talk some with my profs about things beyond the scope of the course, but I am shy, and worry they will feel I'm wasting their time.

    Do you guys tend to do this very often?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2005 #2


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    Hell i talk to my profs more outside of class then I do during class
  4. Sep 18, 2005 #3
    I am always discussing things beyond the scope of the class with my professors. They ENJOY discussing their field of study.
  5. Sep 18, 2005 #4
    You sound like a freshman (am I right? am I right?). Most professors will in fact feel quite the opposite, and are very enthusiastic about communicating with you outside of class - especially if they feel they're 'making a difference' with you. There few exceptions are the bad-tempered ones, who spend all their free time doing research.

    My advice - prepare a question about something that really, really confuses you, reread the relvant reading, think through it three times, choose your words carefully, and confront your professor. Be prepared to do the math. It'll make a good impression, and plus you'll learn something. Also you'll hopefully make some sort of connection so that you'll feel 'able' to approach him/her the next time you need to.

    If you want to go 'outside the scope' of things, try asking about your prof's research...
  6. Sep 18, 2005 #5
    Only do that if you have a least an hour to spare! :biggrin: Not gets a faculty member going like a young person who seems interested in his research.

    I also see more of my professors outside the class than in class, but that's because I'm involved in administration. It's just a little difficult to remember to call these people you mainly know from meetings and receptions by their LAST name in class :tongue2:
  7. Sep 19, 2005 #6
    A couple of observations from the "older" student.
    I agree that speaking to your instructors outside class is a great idea. Everyone likes to see that there is SOMEONE listening out there. Participating in class is also very important, IMHO. There is nothing more uncomfortable to everyone involved than having the professor ask a question and wait and wait and wait for someone to answer.... students are looking at their desks, professor is left up there wondering why
    the students bothered to show up. If you want to make a good impression, PARTICIPATE in class. Ask a question..I promise there are people sitting around you with the same question, but won't ask. If you answer a question and happen to be wrong, you have still given the Prof a place to teach from, rather than just delivering the same lecture as last year.

    Professors love interested students. Be one...introduce yourself to the instructor, compliment him/her on a particularly good lecture, make sure they know who you are and that you are interested. I guarantee that you will benefit.

    I look forward to other comments.
    Hope this helps,
  8. Sep 19, 2005 #7
    Interacting with professors outside of classes is always a good thing. They're the ones who will be writing your recommendation letters should you decide to go on to post-graduate work. A good letter is almost always easier to get from a prof that knows you as something other than an anonymous face in the class. It's also an excellent way to find out more about a particular field and to get leads on summer research projects.

    A good educator never feels interacting with students is a waste of time. I've even gone out for beers with some of my profs.
  9. Oct 4, 2007 #8
    well I saw my one of my professors in office hours yesterday and heres how it went:
    I told him my name and said I was in his class and asked if I did the HW correctly. he said I made a mistake (which was a careless error on my part). I asked him if I could finish the rest of my problem and he just told me that it'd be better if I do it in the physics lounge, so I could meet other students in my class. (He probably wanted me to go away asap)

    also, I mentioned that the discussion for his class was wednesday, he thought it was thurs, so he looked it up on his computer even though I told him I had my written schedule with me! as he was searching, I asked him about his research a little and he responded a little

    he wasnt busy before I saw him, as he was chatting with another person. I don't think he was interested at all with seeing me/geting to know me (on 2nd thought, he did ask whether I was a transfer or not, and then asked what math I had completed and where I transferred from).

    overall, I think he felt that I was wasting his time.

    I'm like the OP, I would like to talk to the professor about things beyond the scope of the course

    on the other hand, I went to office hours for 2 of my TA's with help on HW, and they seemed interested in helping me. They even asked for my name. Maybe next time I can talk about things beyond the class
  10. Oct 4, 2007 #9
    I wouldn't worry about that to much Proton. Professors are people too. Some find it hard to have small talk.
  11. Oct 4, 2007 #10
    I go running with one of my professors!

    One of the things they need to tell new students (but don't) is to cultivate relationships with your professors. Where do you think letters of recommendations come from? Would you rather have a professor write, "Good student: Came to class on time, homework and test scores were good." Or, write something PERSONAL about you... that you're committed, a pleasure to interact with both in AND out of class, etc... It will go a long way if you know your professors on a more intimate basis. Also, most of them are pretty freakin' cool and have a ton of life experience. Don't hesitate.
  12. Oct 4, 2007 #11
    I think you'll notice that as you become an upper-classmen, the professors become nicer and more friendly. You have to remember how many students are "weeded" through in the first couple of years.
  13. Oct 4, 2007 #12
    Funny to look back on this topic. Nowadays I spend so much of my time trying to get out of conversations with profs when they ramble on aimlessly at length.
  14. Oct 4, 2007 #13


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    99% of all professors live for that moment when they get some feedback from students.

    1% of professors are at places like harvard and are world famous and are besieged by more very aggressive students than they can deal with and do not want to talk to them. however these professors know very well how to make that clear, and are perfectly capable of defending themselves against the onslaught.

    do not pity them. you are paying them! ask as many questions as you can until they say, stop! i am poopped out and cannot answer any more.

    why the $$$$ do you think a professor like me blogs on here for nothing, when he makes a salary for teaching at uni? ok ill tell you - because my own students do not ask questions! and ai am starved for questions. of course even here some people abuse my generosity and private message me with trivial questions they should be asking in public where i can more easily ignore them and pick and choose what i want to answer, but even then, i am not a child i can ignore their messages.

    deadwolfe, you have just given me a tip on how to get rid of boring students, be even more boring.

    i admit ia lso go on way past the appetite of most stduents, but i am trying to etach them, they just do not have the capacity to absorb it. i am like a man who lives alone and has no one to talk to, and cannot stop talking when he finally gets some company - there are so few students willing to ask questions that the oen who does gets all the answers i have stored up!

    the intelligent student will listen to as much as a professor is willing to say, unles the prof is an idiot, which is less common than you might think.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  15. Oct 4, 2007 #14
    Great post mathwonk :). You see that boys and girls? Don't be an ass like me to assume that because profs are so busy, they won't be interested in sharing the wisdom! And now it looks clear that some are just plain interested! After all, they went to academia not just to show a proud sign in their heads that says I'm a prof (I'm a rock star, ha).
  16. Oct 4, 2007 #15
    yeah, thats why I wanted to talk with him more

    huh? I am an upper classmen. The class that I saw the professor for was a lower-div course (follows the standard calc-based physics) for physic majors only.
  17. Oct 5, 2007 #16
    This thread is awesome. I find it when it comes to those hardcore math profs, you need to have a somewhat thick skin and shrug off your experience.
    My vector calc professor is awesome, super nice – explains everything about the question asked and is always smiling.
    On the other hand, my intro probability prof never smiles, and is the “TYPICAL” prof who knows nothing but his research (nothing wrong with that but shouldn't teach undergrad). I went into his office to ask a question about the proof he did regarding de morgan’s laws and you know what he did? He let out a sigh and shrugged his shoulders and wrote some crap down on the board and told me to copy it, go home and read the book and if I don’t understand it, come back. He then shut the door rather hard as I left. I felt so bad and DUMB for the whole day. Moral of the story: shrug it off if you get that feeling because at the end of the day, all that matters is that you succeed in your course. And if that doesn't work, you can find out what car the prof drives and egg it - just kidding.. :rofl:
  18. Oct 5, 2007 #17
    Yeah, that's definitely me. :wink:
  19. Oct 5, 2007 #18


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    present company excepted of course.
  20. Oct 5, 2007 #19
    I did independent research (required to graduate) with a professor for two quarters, and then worked over the summer with another. Other than that, nothing.
  21. Oct 8, 2007 #20
    Hell, I pretty much lived on the physics floor when I was in school last year (going back this Spring). We had an undergraduate lounge, and I studied, napped and ate there. Whenever I had a question the profs were a floor up. I picked their brains and learned from it, and most where happy to help. Just don't waste their time. Come prepared, as someone said earlier. These are busy people and, while most will be more than happy to help, being prepared will only allow them to help you more (and may impress them).

    Also going to colloquiums is a good idea. You will get to know most of the professors in the physics department well, and they will all know you by name. It may help to narrow your interests in physics. You will learn who is researching what. Talk to the chair's secretary and get on the mailing list. That or join up with SPS, if theres a local chapter.
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