I want to write this "guide" or whatever you want to call it, to contribute a little to the community because I feel I have been helped a great deal in this forum and I have seen that many people are asking the same question frequently. This is one of my strong points as a student (develop good relationships with professors). This past semester I had 5 professors and I developed a really good relationship with 4 so I just want to share how I did it. I'm sure it can help others. If anyone has any comments and suggestions, feel free to add them.
It would be nice if it could be "stickied" if the consensus is that it is helpful.
Well first off many might think that having a good relationship with a professor is everything to getting a good recommendation letter, it's a step but it's not all there is to it, you have to be a good student, not a goof off. I think it's very important to have a good relationship with your professors because when you do and when you are a good student they have more to talk about in your letters since they know you better. Remember they have tons and tons of students (depending on class sizes and university size) and you are probably one more number if you don't take the time to stand out.
1) Attend ALL of your classes, unless you have an emergency, or something really important that you have to do. Most professors notice you if they see you everyday sitting in the same spot.
-If you have to miss class for some good reason go talk to them and ask them what he went over in class. He will notice your interest in the class.
2) Ask questions. If you don't understand something ASK! I know it can be embarrassing, and a lot of college students don't ask because they're shy, or insecure about what others might think BUT you are paying for your education get the most out of it.
3) Participate in class. If you have something to add, or comment on, say it. It will make the class more interesting for you and your professor. It's not fun when ONLY the professor does ALL the talking.
4) Talk to him during his office hours if you have any questions (that's what their office hours are for), make use of them. , also ask them how their day is going. Personally I like to go off-topic with them (if they are OK with it) and talk about random subjects not-class-related.
5) Exchange e-mails or call their office. This is a less personal approach than the others, but I guess it can help, but not as much. I wouldn't suggest doing this as much as the other suggestions.
6) Greet them when you see them in the hallways.
7) This is a personal one... but I felt so good about certain professors that I gave them a gift (a pound of Gourmet Coffee). I just wanted to let them know how much I appreciated their time. I also hooked up another professor with some DVDs of a rare documentary he was interested in.
8) At the end of the semester thank them and tell them how much you enjoyed their class and give them any suggestions on how to make their class better.
I'd suggest asking the professors that teach the courses that relate the most to your intended major to write the Rec Letters.