Optional: Before the Class
Ask upperclassmen, staff advisers, or even other professors to find instructors who are friendly, caring, and clearly engaged in their student's education.
Part A: During the Class
1. Sit in the Front:
This action suggests you are an interested and motivated student.
You will have better vision of the blackboard, better hearing of lecture material, and better focus.
2. Go to Office Hours:
Display your desire to improve not only your grade, but also your knowledge of the subject matter.
Dress appropriately. Refrain from wearing pajamas or sweats.
Don’t show up unprepared. Study beforehand and only ask questions clearly not addressed in lecture.
Prepare at least 3 open-ended questions about the course material each time you visit. Refrain from asking questions about grading.
More importantly, here lies the perfect opportunity for your professor to learn more about your person.
3. Do well in the class:
It is in your best interest to achieve the highest grade possible so the professor can speak about your academic intellect without any reservations.
Part B: After the Class:
4. Evaluate your Relationship with the professor.
(The more questions below you answer "yes" to, the better.)
Does this professor like me as a student?
Has this professor seen my recent work?
Did I do well in this instructor’s course(s)?
Have I kept in contact with this professor?
Have I always acted ethically in regards to this professor and her or his class?
Can this professor speak about my intellectual development and achievement of skills in a positive manner?
Find a good time/place to approach your professor in-person. (You may try emailing the professor to see when they will be in the office.)
Be as politely direct as possible to minimize awkwardness.
While asking in person, try to sense any sign of hesitation, which is clearly a red flag.
Phrase the question to the lines of: "Dr. X, would you be willing to support me in applying to dental school by writing me a STRONG letter of recommendation?”
At this point, one of two scenarios is possible:
a. The professor shows hesitation or says no. In this situation, acknowledge their answer and thank them for their time. You will need to ask a different professor.
b. The professor agrees with no hesitation. In this case, ask to schedule a definite appointment with them soon to provide them with more information about you. Move on to step 6.
6. Sit down with the professor:
Dress like you would for a professional interview.
Prepare a folder for the professor that includes as many of the following as possible:
A draft of your personal statement
Your contact information (and invite your professor to contact you if he/she ever has any additional questions)
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