Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Student Advising

Peer Adviser Post: How to Talk with your Professor

How to Talk with your Professor
By F. Elias Boujaoude CC '13

Have that burning question you’ve been dying to ask all semester?  Need advice on Graduate school or just need the little bit of extra help?  The standard answer, of course, is GO TO YOUR PROFESSOR…however, many students find it difficult, intimidating, or even bothersome to talk to their instructors.  If you happen to be in this camp, you’ve come to the right place!  Here are some tips on how to talk to your professor or the TA:

  1. Email is perfectly fine, I promise!  Somehow typing up an email seems much less scary and more welcoming.  Professors can respond at their leisure and even include very specific links or documents to answer your question.  One drawback is an email is easier to skip over so you may not get your answer right away.  If this is the case, the general rule of thumb is to wait two weeks before resending a polite follow up. 
  2. For more immediate and personalized feedback, stop by office hours.  Professors and TAs anticipate spending time with students so don’t be shy.  If you are the nervous type, it helps to make a list of things you want to discuss to ensure you don’t forget about anything. 
  3. 9 times out of 10, TAs are either graduate students or even undergrads.  Either way they were hired to work with students on a daily basis, so do not be afraid to meet with them for any questions, especially if you are nervous about talking to the professor.  Additionally, TAs tend to be more flexible so if you can’t meet a professor during their office hours, it is totally fine to reach out to a TA---Send some of your available times so they can respond quicker and more easily!

If you need help drafting an email or coming up with a list of what to talk about during office hours, come see the Peer Advisers, we would love to help!

If you have questions or comments please email your Peer Advisers at:

Stressed about classes? Confused about internship-hunting? Just need someone to talk to?

Ask the CSA Peer Advisers!
Monday- Wednesday: 5-8pm in 403 Lerner
Thursday: 1-4pm on Lerner Ramps

See you then!




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