How to Stand Out in a Class of 300 and Succeed in College

If you are interested in attending graduate school, then you probably already know that you are going to need letters of recommendation. In addition, if you are currently an undergraduate student, you have probably noticed a lot of distance between you and your professors—not to mention the distance between your professors and the other 300 students in your classes. To get strong letters of recommendation from your professors, you will have to overcome this distance by building strong relationships with them. The following are tips about how to build strong working relationships with your professors to hopefully succeed in college.

Be known, but don’t be annoying.

There are two types of students whom professors remember the best: students who are engaged in class and students who are a nuisance. To make sure that your professor knows and respects you, come to class prepared, be actively involved in class discussions, and make meaningful contributions. You should avoid excessively emailing your professor; if you must ask something that is not urgent, save it for class time. Also, as a general rule, never ask a question to which you can easily find the answer in the syllabus. Finally, you should avoid overly questioning your grades. From your professor’s point of view, students who are engaged in class and students who are a nuisance leave different types of impressions. If your goal is succeed in college, then there is no doubt which impression you would like to make.

Get involved in professors' research.

Most professors are also passionate researchers who love to talk about their research—sometimes to anyone who will listen. Express interest to your professors about their research, and express a desire to contribute to their work. Chances are they will jump at the chance for more “free labor.” Not only could this help you get better letters of recommendation, but it may also help boost your vita and help you succeed in college.

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