how to approach faculty

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Welcome, new students! Now that the semester has already started, you’ve probably realized that one of the best things about Hampshire is the accessibility to faculty. You may have lots of questions, and there are so many potential sources to give you the answers. But do you ever feel intimidated, hesitant, or just plain shy in approaching faculty? During this time of transition to college life, social adjustment can feel tricky in and out of the classroom. Knowing how to approach faculty members is a necessary skill in advocating for yourself and maintaining a successful academic experience. Here are some tips to building these important relationships:

1. Keep in touch with your advisor! During your first meetings, be sure to talk about classes, review your strengths and weaknesses, and share your future goals. Remember, advisors are a tremendous resource at Hampshire—there are here for you.

2. If you’re ever feeling confused, lost, overwhelmed or concerned in the classroom or about certain course material, don’t wait—communicate with your professor! There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Plan your questions, and approach them after class to discuss them. In my experience, this is the best way to get quick questions answered!
  • Sign up for office hours! Some professors are busier than others, and are therefore a bit harder to reach. Signing up for their office hours (usually posted on your course syllabus, their office door, and/or their Hampedia page) ensures one-on-one time with them, and is especially helpful when you’re looking to have a thoughtful conversation.
  • You can also contact them through e-mail and their course website to try and find a time to meet outside the classroom. Just remember: faculty inboxes can sometimes be filled the brim, so if you’re waiting for a reply, it may be best to actually follow up in person with your professor. Note: when writing an e-mail to faculty, make sure to include a greeting, provide a clear overview of what you’re writing about, and don’t forget to sign your name! The more information they have, the easier it will be for them to respond to you.

3. Teacher’s Assistants (or TAs) are older Division II or Division III students who help professors throughout the semester. They’re great conduits between you and faculty, so use them well!

4. The Deans of the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) are also available to help make connections. CASA’s expert tips helped to provide the framework for this blog post, and they have lots of great information to share. Don’t hesitate to visit their office, located in the Lemelson Building, or call them at x5498.

5. As with all campus communication, please make sure to check your Hampshire e-mail regularly. Faculty, staff, community members, and other students will use this e-mail address to reach you, and you are expected to follow up on e-mail communication through this account throughout your time at Hampshire.

Faculty are always willing to help, but they can’t read minds, so it’s crucial for you to take the first step in approaching them. Introducing yourself and keeping in regular contact is a great way to start the year and to stay on top of your progress in class.

Best of luck with the start of the semester!

Questions or comments? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’d love to hear from you!

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