6 Important Questions to Ask Your Professor

Student conversing with professor

Whether you’re stepping into your first college classroom or returning to complete your degree, your connection to your professor can be the difference between struggles and success. Start your semester by asking a few questions that can help you get inside your professor’s head as you step inside their classroom.

1. What Should I Know About Your Teaching Style?

A great way to prepare for success is to understand course expectations and how your professor will teach the material. Ask about your professor’s instruction style. Do they lecture, perform demos, or like to initiate group discussions? Maybe they incorporate group projects or presentations into the curriculum. The more you know about how they teach, the more you can prepare to meet their expectations.

2. How Can I Be Successful in Your Class?

You probably have a general idea on how to succeed in class; you need to study hard and get good grades. But individual instructors will have different grading criteria and advice on how to succeed. Ask your professor what theirs is. Some prioritize quizzes and tests, while others grade heavily on your participation in class discussions and forums. Do papers and projects count more than homework? Do they use grading rubrics? Before you ask, though, be sure to look at the syllabus. You don’t want to ask a question that they clearly answer there. But you can pull an item from the syllabus and ask them to elaborate upon it. Professors love it when students review the syllabus and think ahead. Knowing your professors’ expectations can help you succeed in class and stay in their good graces—which is important if you ever need a reference or letter of recommendation.

3. Can You Recommend Other Courses that Further Explore This Subject?

If the instructor teaches a subject that you want to learn more about, or a core course that could lead to your future career path, ask how you can explore it further. There may be similar or more advanced courses they can recommend. There may even be student organizations that can help you build skills and gain experience in a particular discipline. Find out.

4. What Careers Can I Pursue with My Major?

The professors who teach courses in your major can give you advice on the types of careers you might pursue with your degree. Especially if you’re unsure about what you want to do after graduation, their suggestions can be enlightening. And they often know your strengths and weaknesses better than your advisor so they may be able to recommend different career paths. They may even still work in the industry they teach about, so they know the qualities and skills you need to succeed. Even if they no longer work in the field, they may have connections you could tap for advice, internships, and that elusive first job.

5. What Interested You in This Subject?

Don’t just ask questions that benefit you. Ask your professors about their interests in and out of the classroom. This is a great way to get your professors to open up and build a rapport. Plus, you may discover some interesting aspects about your major that you didn’t know before.

6. Can You Share Some Lessons That You Learned in Your Career?

Your professors probably have lots of industry experiences and some great stories they could share—if you’d only ask. Along with those anecdotes come insights that can give you a glimpse into the real world. They can share valuable advice about what they learned and tell you mistakes to avoid. They know what employers might expect of you, and how you should behave in the workplace. They can also give you a realistic expectation of what your day-to-day dream career might look like.

The more you talk to your professors, the more connections you build. As you prepare to enter the working world, your network will become important as you look for jobs and seek recommendations. All you have to do is reach out to your professors. At Limestone University, our faculty are dedicated to your success. Whether you major in education, liberal arts, business, or the health professions, your professors can answer your questions and help you prepare for your career. Click the button to learn more.