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Student Success Guide: Questions to Ask Professors

Last updated on Jul 05, 2023

Sometimes, asking for help or trying to start a conversation with your professor can be overwhelming. Whether it’s asking about your grades, or just trying to make connections and network, this guide will show you some ways you can ask for help or learn more about your professor!

Quick Tips:

  • Ask in depth questions in class.
  • Attend office hours.
  • Ask for advice.
  • Keep in contact.
  • If the professor shares an interesting link or resource in class, check it out and let them know your reaction to it.

Here are the top three questions you can ask your professor:

  • What opportunities helped you on your artistic and/or professional path?
  • What strategies and/or resources can I use to perform better in your course?
  • Which items should I concentrate on more for your exams? What are the best ways to prepare for your exams?

You can find additional questions and tips in this guide…

Additional Resource: Communicating with Faculty Guide

Relationship Building Questions

Seeking to get to know your professor better, seek mentorship, or engage in networking/connections.

  • What school or training programs did you do?
  • What is your day-to-day work life like?
  • What is your proudest accomplishment?
  • What do you like/dislike most about your profession?
  • What do you wish you had known about the field before you started?
  • What is the general salary for someone in this field?
  • How did you become interested in this subject and why did you want to teach it?
  • What is your favorite part of teaching at this college?
  • What is your favorite class to teach?
  • Based on your experience, what have been some common characteristics, passions, and career goals of students in this major?
  • What clubs or after school activities would you recommend (in regards to preparing for a career in this area of study)?
  • I'm thinking about pursuing a career in this subject. What advice can you give me?

Course Questions

Seeking to receive help with navigating course content, how to prepare for upcoming exams/assignments, and inquire about academic standing in the course.

  • I’m struggling with this assignment. Can you give me some advice on how to improve?
  • I don’t really get this concept we are working with. Can you give me some more examples or resources to look at?
  • I'd like to better understand my grade for the assignment. Are any additional details available on how it was evaluated so that I can improve? Are there opportunities for improving my performance and grade on this assignment/project?
  • What are characteristics of students who are successful in your courses and in this program?
  • I'm having trouble understanding the material. What resources are available?
  • Would you mind looking over my paper/project/assignment and recommend changes that you feel should be made?
  • Would you mind clarifying some areas of confusion for me regarding the notes from class?
  • What can I do to improve my grades in this class?
  • What are the most common mistakes you see on papers/assignments for this class? Do you have any guidance for avoiding those mistakes?
  • How does [insert reading here] relate back to [insert class topic or theme here]?
  • I really enjoy your class. What other courses would you recommend?
  • I really enjoyed learning about this particular topic. Can you recommend resources for further reading?

Other Conversation Topics

  • Specific requirements and expectations on assignments
  • An assignment/project that you need help breaking down into small action steps
    • Tip: Show your instructor what you’ve already done and the steps you have taken and ask them for feedback and guidance.
  • Something in class that you found interesting or thought-provoking
  • Plans for summer (e.g. internships) or after graduation (e.g. graduate school)
  • An issue in your personal life that is interfering with your learning
  • Missed class
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Job/volunteer opportunities and connections

Inspiration was drawn from the following sources: