Question: What are you actually paying for in college?
It's not the food, dorms, or books, although those are all expensive parts these days. No, you're paying primarily for one thing: access to professors. In colleges that are conducting distance learning only, students who are not participating may as well stay home and watch YouTube videos for free (or perhaps purchase some videos at The Great Courses). So then what are you really paying for? What's the difference between a YouTube video and an online college class? Your ability to access the professor.
Not only do professors determine your grade, but they also provide incredibly valuable networking and learning opportunities that are unique to your college/environment. Many professors are experts in their fields and almost all have an area of study that interests them in particular. Learn about it, ask them questions, show them genuine curiosity for what they have to say. Who knows? You might actually learn something...
Q: How do I approach my professor?
A: Go to their personal website or find a biography on the school site. Try looking them up on a site like JSTOR, Lexus Nexus, or even just Google to see what work they've published. Read something they've written, find something interesting about their work, then ask them a question about it! You can also ask them for advice.
Q: When should I talk to my professor?
A: In-person it should be a little easier, because you can stick around after class. Even virtually they should still have office hours, so make an appointment!
For High School Students:
Your teachers are the ones who will write you letters of recommendation for college or your first jobs. You spend more time with your K-12 teachers than you likely ever will with a college professor, so get to know them! Learn as much as you can from them.
Think about all of the things you can learn from your teachers besides content: leadership, communication, work ethic, responsibility, people skills, and so much more. Learning what NOT to do is often just as valuable as learning what TO do.
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NOTE: All of our College Success tips work for ANY level of school!