Skip To Content
  • Study Break Time badge

10 Things College Professors Want You To Know, Including How To Impress Them (And How To Annoy Them)

Take it from me.

Alright, you’re in college now — and your high school teachers have been telling you for four years how terrifying and unrelenting college professors are.

Here's the plot twist, though. Most professors I know are pretty relaxed, understanding people. That being said, our job is a little different than your high school teacher’s — and we’re under no obligation to flag you down about missing assignments. We're also definitely not contacting your parents when you don’t show up to class.

Daveed Diggs as a teacher

I’m entering my ninth year of teaching and my sixth in higher education — and every time I think I’ve seen it all, I see something new. I’ve had students who will definitely go on to change the world, and I’ve had students I’ve hardly met ask me when the final is (I’m sorry, who are you??).

If you want to stand out, here are a few tips and tricks. And know that these are on top of the usual givens: participate, do your work, and show up to class no matter who tells you it’s not important. If you want to elevate yourself from basic functioning student to someone who stands out, you actually do need to stand out a bit!

However, it's worth noting that you are not going to like every professor you have. You’re not going to click with everyone’s personality, teaching style, etc. That’s normal, and it’s a good lesson in adaptability. These steps aren’t going to magically make classes easier, but they will help foster positive communication. That said, let's get into it!

1. It sounds obvious — but know how to write a good email. I cannot stress this enough.

2. And on that note, get yourself a professional-sounding email address.

3. Expect a reasonable turnaround time.

4. Do not ask for their phone number.

5. Don’t call them when you’re drunk.

6. Check. Your. Syllabus.

7. Remember that we are paid to answer your questions, so speak up when you need help.

8. Talk to us – especially if you know there is going to be a problem ahead of time.

9. And if you're comfortable, talk to us about other things as well.

10. Forget who you were in high school.

There you have it! Welcome to the world of higher education. Whether you are living at home, have moved across the country, or are navigating a massive university or a local community college, make good choices, drink water, and CHECK YOUR SYLLABUS.