Keeping in touch with professors after the semester

<p>Hi everyone. I'm a freshman and for my first semester I took the "standard" classes, but even then, I had some good professors I'd like to keep in touch with. However, I'm not sure how to approach them now that the semester is over. During the semester, I would go to office hours with an issue I was having, and we would talk a bit after they have helped me out. I am not really personable in professional situations (I tend to stick to what's being discussed and try not to digress like I would in friendly conversations) but I would still like to keep in touch/know these professors better even though I'm not taking their classes. </p>

<p>But I'm wondering, how can I do this? Do I approach them at office hours? Do I send them emails? What about teachers that don't have office hours or they're by appointment? Thanks for your help! :)</p>

<p>You shouldn’t. Professors on campus are working professionals. They (should) keep a reasonable distance from undergrads, especially if you’re not in their class or research project. They aren’t there to make friends with students. Indeed, if they did they could open themselves up to charges of unprofessionalism regarding favortism or even having had some form of sexual relationship. That’s career ending stuff for them!</p>

<p>Aside from that, they’re working. If you want to know them better as professionals, take another of their classes. That’ll show you’re keen. But otherwise do not email them or approach them as you’ll come across an annoyance at best, stalkerish at worst.</p>

<p>Not to sound rude or anything but…don’t listen to the post above me. It’s wrong. </p>

<p>1) It is perfectly ok to develop student-teacher relationships with your professors.
Developing relationships with your professors and allowing them to see what kind of student and person you are in your community is extremely helpful. They could write recommendations for you, nominate you for awards, and if you have a relationship with them, they are more likely share with you programs/event that may pop up that could be of your best interest. </p>

<p>2)Office hours are just that. Hours set aside in their office to help students.
It is not odd to drop in on a professor and ask them for advice, clue them in on how things are going, or chat with them about a current event. This past semester my teacher told me to drop in everyone once in awhile, and have a chat with him. He also said to not be shy if I needed to ask him anything. Professors (should) want to develop relations with their students. </p>

<p>OP, I’m unsure how you would go about doing this (I am a freshman, well). I would imagine just dropping by their office hours. If you do not know their office hours, you can email them and asking for them and expressif that you wanted to sop in for a visit. </p>

<p>This is what I imagine. I’m sure an upperclassman would be able to provide better info.</p>

<p>Drop by during office hours. The department secretary can probably tell you when various faculty will be in, or that information may even be on the web site. Come with a specific question or just pop in to say hello, and don’t overstay your welcome.</p>

<p>I’m a senior and I pretty much agree with highland_poppy. If you really like them, take another class with them or see if you can do research with them. You can certainly say hi if you see them around, but I would never just randomly seek out a professor to chat with… You don’t want to be that person. At least I don’t.</p>

<p>Yeah…don’t listen to that first reply. It’s not at all uncommon for students to keep in touch with former professors. That’s not to say that you should pop in on them every week to just chat about nothing, but once or twice a semester is perfectly fine. It’s also fine to shoot them an occasional email.</p>

<p>If you’re worried about needing a ‘reason’ to stop in, just come up with some kind of question that’s relevant to their field. If you want to keep in touch with them, it’s likely due to enjoying their classes. If it’s an anthropology teacher, read up on some articles about anthropology, and pop in to ask a question about it/discuss it for a short time.</p>

<p>I personally feel that after one class with a professor, especially if that person isn’t an allocated tutor or in an allocated pastoral care role, it’s a bit pushy. Especially as a freshman.</p>

<p>I’ve seen as a college administrator the relationships students have with their professors and many are extremely rich and last well beyond graduation. Even as administrators, we think about the students who’ve left but its the mixture of their professionalism when dealing with us (some were a nightmare) and friendship that makes you most fondly remembered. </p>

<p>Office hours don’t mean the professor is sitting twiddling their thumbs. It just means its the 2 hours or so that they have to be in their offices so students can find them. Keep it largely on topic unless the professor digresses. It may turn out you have a shared interest in celebrity gossip (I’m not joking). By all means say you’d like to get more involved in the departments activities. Ask about their own research interests. But tread very carefully so you stand out as the genuine, interested, motivated student. Not the one fishing for a recommendation.</p>

<p>There’s obviously a difference between stopping in constantly when they’re really busy to talk about essentially nothing at all, and stopping in once or twice a year to chat for a few minutes about a relevant topic. I keep in touch with a couple professors that I had for only 1-2 semesters. Every time I stop in to talk to them they seem genuinely interested in how I’m doing, asking me a lot of questions about how classes are going etc. These are professors that I did actually form something of a bond with during the course of the class though. If it was a professor that you had a class with, and maybe talked to a few times during the semester right after class to clarify something or whatever, it would be a bit different. They aren’t likely to even remember you.</p>

<p>Regardless, in my experience professors love hearing from former students.</p>

<p>I agree with comfortablycurt and the others that say it’s okay. But also, I agree that you have to keep in mind that they’re still a professional to you and not a buddy (unless they make that distinction). </p>

<p>I keep in touch with some of mine. I just let it work itself out naturally. If I see them on campus, I’ll wave, and if they’re not in a hurry to be somewhere, they’ll stop and say hello and ask me about my life. I did a “have coffee with faculty” thing with one of them, too (at her suggestion). My department also had a holiday party before break, so I was able to talk to a few profs there while we ate. It’s all very go-with-the-flow. </p>

<p>Honestly, most of my “updates” have been from coincidental passing. I see the Chair of my department whenever I’m in that office area since her office is open in the hallway, and sometimes she’ll be looking out, catch my eye, and wave me over. Sometimes she doesn’t look up and so doesn’t see me, so I don’t do anything. </p>

<p>Just go with it. If they’re in your department, you’ll probably be able to take another class with them or be in their area a lot. Even a simple knock and “hello” is enough for them to remember you and know that you appreciate them in some way. </p>

<p>As long as you’re not stalking them or acting all awkward about it, there’s really no wrong way to do it.</p>

<p>Since my department is small, I pretty much keep in touch with all the professors I have had in class. Last spring I won a big award (somewhat mysteriously) and I suspect my involvement within the department both in class and in research had something to do with it. Usually when I see professors I have had in class, I ask them how they are doing and then we talk about stuff like research, our interests in the field, and now since I am a senior, my graduate school applications. It’s great to get their advice about these things as they all have a unique perspective and are incredibly knowledgable. I feel like I relate to professors very well as I am naturally a very bookish academic type and may remind them of what they were like when they were undergrads.
I have especially developed a great relationship with my major advisor and my research advisor. My research advisor knows me very well and both promotes me and pushed me to go way beyond the typical undergraduate researcher. As a result, I function as practically a graduate student in my group and got a first author paper accepted (will probably come out next week or so) into arguably one of the top three journals in my field.
Naturally, a benefit of developing relationships with professors is having great recommendation letters in graduate school or other applications. Since I really know my recommenders, I am confident that they wrote me great letters (they seem very optimistic about my chances so I think this is a reasonable assumption).</p>