Photo by Yan Krukov

By Sharon Schweitzer

Back to School Success: University Etiquette Edition II 2022

4 Methods to Build Professional Rapport to Achieve Success

The university process may seem overwhelming – the massive inflow of information, time constraints, and endless course options. Keep in mind that you are not alone in the onerous university process. Your professors are invaluable resources. Knowing how to effectively communicate with these sages benefits your academic career. With the right methods to build professional rapport with your professor, you can achieve success.

  1. Interacting with Your Professor: Students can be uncertain about how to address the professor. Recent high school graduates use “Mr., Mrs., and Ms.” and those with careers tend to default using a first name. Every professor has a PhD in their respective field, so the appropriate title is Doctoror Professor. Mastering these titles demonstrates your maturity and respect for the professor.
  2. Leveraging Office Hours: Posing a question amid four hundred other undergraduates in an auditorium can be unnerving. Bring questions about the subject matter, deadlines, and class content to the professor during office hours. The professor is tremendous ally, so start taking full advantage of posted hours early in the semester. Arrive with detailed questions and written notes. Demonstrate genuine interest and in return a student will receive the professor’s genuine assistance with materials and specific tips on improving grades. Once rapport is established, consider returning to office hours for follow-up visit. Establishing trust may be beneficial for potential academic research or a future recommendation.
  3. Emailing Professionally: A daily component of university life includes composing a professional email. Know how to select an appropriate greeting and a proper subject line. Begin by addressing professors the same way you would face-to-face, by using the proper salutation. Second, write a comment about the class content such as, “I enjoyed your analogy about the works of art being seen as works of nature.” Next, get to the point. Introduce yourself, identify the course, and provide a foundation for the question. For example:

Hello Dr. Schweitzer,

Your analogy about works of art being seen as works of nature has helped me tremendously. My name is ______ and I am in your Intro to Art, course number__, section _, Fall 2022. I am currently studying the online content about Scandinavian art. Are you available to help clarify the Central European information face-to-face? Unfortunately, I am scheduled for another class during your posted office hours. Would it be possible to schedule an individual appointment? Thank you for your consideration.



  1. Networking: Most students begin the invaluable process of networking during their college years. It is the opportune time to gather academic and intern recommendations. Leverage your university connections to build a professional resumé. Build rapport with your professors by asking about their research opportunities; study abroad possibilities; or work-study within your major. Seek out internships to help build experience and real-world knowledge.

Brush up on networking tips to prepare for career fairs and internships to maximize your success. Get to know your colleagues and acquire professional references during college.

Challenge yourself to incorporate these four tips. Expand your knowledge and polish your professionalism while pursuing your degree. It all starts with the professor, so take advantage of the opportunity!