How to approach your lecturer

A classroom.

For first year students, the thought of talking to your lecturers might seem daunting. Here is this person who has dedicated pretty much their whole lives to their craft – they are highly regarded in their field; they have contributed significant research findings and innovations to the discipline; they could also be practicing professionals. 

If you want to get your foot in the door, these are the people to impress. So, why shouldn’t you be slightly terrified of talking to them, right? 

For one, most of them want nothing more than to see you succeed. I know as students our biggest fear is being perceived as “dumb”, especially by our lecturers, so we tend to keep to ourselves and rarely ask for help. 

But it’s important to remember that your lecturers are there to teach you and you are here to learn, so asking them for help with your studies is expected. Nonetheless, I know how scary it can be trying to reach out, so here are some tips that I hope would make the interaction less scary. 

Get in touch ASAP. Preferably within the first week of classes. Your cohort is huge which makes it quite difficult for your lecturer to know every single person in class, so the most effective way to break the ice with your lecturer is to make your presence known early on. You don’t necessarily have to put your hand up and start a full-on discussion with your lecturer on the first day. I reckon asking them a question or two after the lecture would suffice or if talking to them in person is still too nerve wrecking (totally understandable!), email them.

I think you’ll find that most of them are very supportive and friendly. 

Be participative. I know, I know, more talking which is scary but that’s the only way to build a relationship with your teaching staff. It’s like making a friend – would you be friends with someone if they don’t interact with you at all? I don’t think so, right? 

You can start small by answering and asking questions in your seminar. It’s a smaller group, so it’s less horrifying than having to do so in a huge lecture hall. Seminars are also designed for you to clarify any confusions or questions you have about the course, so it’s the perfect place to ask for help.

Whenever I get nervous about speaking in class, I try to remind myself that everyone in here is on this learning journey too, so my questions might actually benefit the class. If that fails and my anxiety gets the best of me, then I try to catch my tutor during group discussions or after class. 

Always be courteous and respectful. This goes without saying. Just because your lecturers or tutors have a chill personality and is fine with going by their first name, does not mean that you should leave all manners out the door. Be professional in your interactions and remember that they are very much still your educators, so a level of respect should still be owed to them.

Also, remember there is a host of additional support through the academic skills team here

Tagged in What messes with your head, university, uni life, Student life, study