How to Talk to Faculty

As advisers we often encourage students to meet and talk with their professors.

We know that talking with a faculty member can seem intimidating – especially for new students. Continuing students can also feel that nervous twinge. Use the guidelines below to prepare to meet and talk to faculty. 

Step 1: Make an appointment:

  • Review the syllabus for your instructor's office hours or find your instructor using the Find People search engine.
  • Go to your instructor's office during the posted hours.
  • If you're uncertain of your instructor's office hours, ask for them.
  • If your schedule conflicts with the office hours, tell your instructor why you can't make the scheduled office hours and request alternate times you two could meet. It's important to be flexible.
  • Then tell your instructor about your specific concern.
  • Set up a specific time to meet with your instructor.
  • Be sure to indicate the amount of time you think you'll need.
  • It helps to make a list or notes beforehand for easy reference.

Step 2: Establish rapport.

  • Be on time for your appointment.
  • When you arrive be pleasant, smile, introduce yourself again (include your name and class), and shake hands if appropriate.

Step 3: Present your concern.

  • Focus on the specific questions you've identified as problematic.
  • Have your question(s) or problem(s) written out so that the instructor can see where you are encountering challenges.

Step 4: Provide background information.

  • Briefly tell your instructor about your high school background and preparation for the course if relevant to solving the problem.
  • Explain the study strategies you've used to understand the material.

Step 5: Redirect for clarification.

  • If the instructor’s explanation isn’t clear, redirect his/her attention to the specific point where you became confused.
  • Talk through your problem so that the instructor hears your reasoning.

Step 6: Summarize resolution of the problem.

  • I was missing this step in...I need to apply this formula...

Step 7: Thank your instructor.

  • And ask to come back if necessary.