By: Laurence Black
“Don’t be a teacher’s pet.” This is a phrase that most students hear throughout their academic careers. To an extent, it’s true—no one likes the kid who is always trying to buddy-up to every professor, but where else can positive,prestigious recommendations come from when it is time to apply to graduate programs? Be covert. Follow these simple rules and no one will notice that you are an undercover pet.
However intimidating it may be to sit front and center in a huge lecture hall, it always comes in handy. Sitting in front allows the professor to remember your face. Seeing a familiar face every day means that they will be more likely to interact with you before, during or after class. Furthermore, sitting in the front allows them to see that you are paying attention and making an effort. However, you must be careful because sitting in front of the professor’s face means that he will also be more able to see you texting or playing on Facebook.
Additionally, If you are going to sit in front of the class, be prepared to answer questions when they are asked. Always do the homework and read the book. Professors find nothing more frustrating than rooms full of students who have no idea what is going on. Be that beacon of light in the sea of blank stares. Your professor will remember it.
The next key step in being a covert teachers pet is regularly attending office hours. Professors are a far less intimidating when you are with them on a one-on-one basis. Just because your professor is twice your age and their name is followed by “MD, PhD,” does not mean that professors are not people too. More often than not, they are happy to know that you are excited to learn and more than willing to help when you are struggling. Through office hours, you can also work to develop a more personal relationship with your professor, allowing them to get to know you as a person. This will prove helpful when you are scrambling for recommendations later in your college career.
Finally, always be inquisitive. Show your professor that you have a thirst to learn. A positive attitude will benefit you in the best of ways — even in the dullest of subjects. Not only will your professor be impressed that you are awake, but you will also be more likely to remember the material when a test inevitably rolls around. Most of the time, the classes that are the hardest to pay attention in are the ones that will come back and haunt you on graduate admissions tests such as the MCAT or the PCAT.
It is possible to be a star student without antagonizing your professor. All it takes is proper seating and a little academic effort. As a bonus, you will learn a lot in the process, make better grades and truly enhance your collegiate experience.