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5 Easy Ways to Impress a Professor

Updated on July 19, 2017
StephanieBCrosby profile image

Stephanie Bradberry is an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. Her academic career includes teaching, tutoring, writing and editing.

Just like you would engage in certain activities to obtain a promotion or impress your boss or superior, your professor needs to be impressed as well.  There is the assumption that showing up to class—whether in person or online—and submitting work is sufficient to earn the desired grade. However, grades are made up of more than task completion and attendance.  So, following are five easy ways to impress your professor that can also help boost your grade.


1. Be Punctual

There is nothing more disruptive than someone coming in late and breaking the flow of something already in progress. Of course there are unforeseen events—car problems, child care issues, traffic, et cetera—but do not make the situation worse than it already is.

Worst Thing You Can Do:

The worst thing you can do is add insult to injury. This is done when you draw even more attention to yourself by giving your excuse to the whole class. This, knowingly or not, raises stress levels. If you are stressed then you will not be very focused.

Best Thing You Can Do:

Wait until the end of class and explain your situation. But do not lie, as often professors will check to see if there was a traffic jam or they may ask to see the bill for repairs to your car in case of an accident if you want the tardy to be excused.

Benefit(s) and/or Compromise:

The more adult you handle the situation, the better your chances for having the late excused. Also, if you are consistently on time, it can work towards your favor in the end. If you are a couple of percentage points from the next grade bump, your punctuality can be used as a point to boost your grade. Not every professor does it, but it does not hurt to use this suggestion at the end of the semester. By being on time you also do not miss important announcements or beginning exercises that may impact your grade.

Kolb's Learning Styles
Kolb's Learning Styles

2. Be Engaged

There are many ways to be engaged, but that is beyond the scope of this writing. The point is, do something during class time that shows you are paying attention. Blinking your eyes heavily and a bobbing sleeping head do not count.

Worst Thing You Can Do:

This one is obvious: sleep through class. While your time of catching some rest may not be intentional, no matter the reason, it looks disrespectful. So if you are doing something like taking notes, it can mitigate your urge to sleep.

Best Thing You Can Do:

Be part of the class by asking and answering questions and doing all the activities schedule for that class meeting. Engagement can also take the form of some manual labor. You can help by being the first to rearrange desks and put them back or ask the professor if he or she needs help carrying supplies or papers back to the office. Also, find out what kind of learner you are so you know what will help keep your interested and make things interesting. There are many learning and personality style assessments out there, like Felder and Solomon’s, Abiator’s, and Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

Benefit(s) and/or Compromise:

Well, for one, you will not be falling asleep as much. The professor always takes note of who is actively participating in class. Sometimes there is a place in the course syllabus for grading such activity. If there is not, your extra and expected efforts can also be a bargaining point for added earned points for your grade at the end of the semester. By taking notes and doing activities during class, it helps engrain the material for easier recall later.

Pile of books
Pile of books

3. Be Prepared

We all know this is common sense, but how often do we actually do our part? Being prepared goes beyond completing readings for the day. Many students still forget to bring essentials like paper and something to write with.

Worst Thing You Can Do:

The worth thing you can do is little to none of the work and then be disrespectful about it. Often when students do not care about a course they come unprepared but then are rude by texting, showing clear disinterest, or making off-hand comments. Other people in the class still care. If you or others are not prepared, then it can negatively impact the day’s planned lesson and activities. Unlike high school, the course goes on, and often what is not covered is left up to you to learn.

Best Thing You Can Do:

Clearly, do all the work assigned and bring anything mentioned in the previous class or listed on the syllabus. But also make it clear you are prepared. You should ask questions based on the homework and answer questions as well. Sometimes it helps to come extra prepared. By bringing extra pens and pencils, you can help diminish the awkward phase when everyone is asked to take notes and most look around for something to write on and with.

Benefit(s) and/or Compromise:

Life happens, but how are you going to compensate for it? What I mean is, sometimes an unexpected event occurs that prevents you from being prepared. But you can still benefit in this situation. If you did not do the work, be honest about what you did and did not get to. This way the professor has a good read on what can and should be discussed. Compensate for not being prepared by still making statements—even if they are more general in nature—and asking questions. This shows you care and are responsible in the wake of misfortune.

Folded hands
Folded hands

4. Be Respectful

This one is simple. Follow directions like turning off electronic devices and be courteous and collegial to your classmates and professor.

Worst Thing You Can Do:

The absolute worst thing you can do is act like you own the classroom and do not need the course. Every course shows up on your transcript and you may end up with the same professor and/or classmates in the future. They will remember your attitude and actions. While professors are professional, they are still human.

Best Thing You Can Do:

You will be wise to ignore your impulses. You may disagree with comments, the rules, or something the professor does. But take a breath and think before making any comments or taking any action.

Benefit(s) and/or Compromise:

If there is a pressing concern, talk to your professor before the start of class, during office hours, or during an appointed time. Of course mobile means of contact are a part of many lives now, but it does not mean they are a right in the classroom. If it is not stated in your syllabus, ask the professor if you can keep your device on silent or vibrate. If you are cognizant of the proper way to conduct yourself in higher education, the professor will take the time to make personal recommendations for you and see to other professional requests like filing out honors and scholarship forms.


5. Be Proactive

While being proactive can apply to many instances in learning, the focus here will be on submission of work that impacts you grade, as it is the most pressing concern for students. So, do not wait for a returned grade to figure out what needs improvement. Odds are it is too late to correct the errors unless you get a rewrite or resubmission. I always tell students to work harder and not smarter. This includes checking to see if you are on the right page before committing hours to writing the whole draft or final version.

Worst Thing You Can Do:

The worst thing to do is create an immediate commotion by voicing disbelief, yelling at the professor, and/or leaving the room in a huff. But this is tied with complaining about the professor to his or her supervisor or dean because you do not agree with the grading. Sure, you may feel vindicated for potentially getting the professor in trouble or on the radar, but what does it say about you? Of course there are times when reporting is necessary; just makes sure you have evidence ready to substantiate your claims.

Best Thing You Can Do:

The best thing to do is meet with your professor during office hours or find a common time to meet. Use this time to go over your outlined approach to your work and get advanced feedback. Visit your tutoring center on campus or use an online service like Smarthinking (often free if your institution has a school account) to get feedback on your work. Finding a peer who excels in the subject matter is also a good option.

Benefit(s) and/or Compromise:

You get to build a better working relationship with your professor or classmate, whomever you seek out for help. The more your professor knows you are dedicated to fostering your education the more they are willing to go to bat for you in the end. Also, it can lead to more personalized letters of recommendation. The more feedback you get, the better you will become and can apply the concepts to other courses and aspects of your learning.

Overall, have your professors been easy to please

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In Sum

While many of the points above may not be new information for you, a refresher on their importance is always good to remind you that there are easy ways to impress your professor and potentially impact your grade for the better.

Stephanie Bradberry
Stephanie Bradberry

About the Author

Stephanie Bradberry is first and foremost an educator and life-long learner. Her present work is as an herbalist, naturopath, and energy healer. She spent over a decade as a professor of English, Literature, Business and Education and high school English teacher. She is the founder and owner of Naturally Fit & Well, LLC and former owner of Crosby Educational Consulting, LLC. Stephanie loves being a freelance writer and editor on the side.


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    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. You make an excellent point about professors liking learners who can engage others. I think I'm going to have to update the Hub to include this aspect :) Thanks!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      You brought back memories of my college days. Great hub and very useful. I remember discovering another thing that impressed my professors. And that is engaging other students in discussions. I would make positive reference to comments other students had made, and sometimes that would develop into a classroom discussion. Teachers loved that!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks rajan jolly. I always appreciate when you stop by!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      A must read hub with some fine tips to get in the good books of a professor. Voted up, useful and shared on G+1.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello again expertscolumn,

      It's great that you find yourself engaged in your courses. I'm glad you found this easy to read and cite.

      I have never had an official coffee or lunch with a professor. But sometimes in undergrad is upper level courses they would have us over to their apartment or house for a mini get together. As a professor myself, I have only offered a little get together with my students twice (one was an online course and one was a graduate level education course). It was too hard to get everyone together after the semester for the online class, so it ended up being a lunch with just one student, but it was a good time. And my graduate students all showed up but many had to leave early because they had another course starting that night. If a student personally asked me to join them for tea (I don't drink coffee), I would decline unless it was after the semester and grades were submitted.

    • expertscolumn profile image

      Stanley Soman 

      5 years ago from New York

      As a college student, this is always on the back of my mind but usually the topic or course is interesting that I end up becoming engaged and participate because I want to. I love the way you cited this very easy to cite and i might because its good tips.

      Have you ever had coffee or lunch out with your professor? I often hear people suggest this but I think this is wildly bizarre in my mind

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello RobinGrosswirth23. It sounds like you are either an educator or a very serious learner...or both. I do have my standards, but then again they are the standards that anyone would probably look for, like the SOP for the classroom. They know they are there to keep the learning environment safe, conducive, and fair for all. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 

      6 years ago from New York

      This was quite comprehensive and a good guide for students to follow. I see here that you do have your standards, and good for you.

      Though device info (whether it is permissible to have it on or off) is usually found on the syllabus, it is always respectful to remain focused on the prof.

      Some really salient points.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Millionaire Tips. I like giving it to people straight between the eyes (in a nice way). All of these tips are nothing new, of course. But like you said, professors are people too. And it does not take much to impress them. Treat them nice and seem interested in what's going on.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      These are great ideas to impress a professor, and not get on his or her nerves. I often found that when I simply nodded and reacted to what the professor was saying, he seemed pleased that I was paying attention. Professors are people too , and they need to know that you are hearing and understanding what they are saying, and are interested in learning. Voted up.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello sriparna. Sometimes we get overwhelmed when in the process of taking a class that we lose sight of the fundamentals. I love when students come asking what they could possibly do to turn their grade around. It amazes me how many time I say thing like, "Come on time," "Don't text during class," Take notes," "Hand your work in on time," etc.

      Giving credit for the work of others is definitely paramount. Till recently I cited works as I should with little thought beyond what professors and teachers told me. Then I was recently hired at a university where they are having all the students read the same book for a common experience. The book is the popular "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." It was not until reading this book that the importance of ethics and crediting sources really hit home.

    • sriparna profile image


      6 years ago from New Delhi

      Very good suggestions, little things which can make BIG difference, I'll pass it on to my students. I particularly liked the reference style you mentioned both in MLA and CPA formats, that too will be helpful for students, they need to be respectful when using other resources as well!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello Escape to the Sun. Thanks for supporting my points.

      I guess you final comment comes from personal experience. This is something I saw happen at different levels of education. For example, when I taught high school, one teacher that I had study hall duty with was sleeping with one of the students. He unexpectedly resigned and moved to Hawaii. Well, he did not go alone, and that is when people figured out what was going on. At the college level, I know plenty of students willing to do "something extra" to pass the class. They need to just do the work assigned!

      Thanks for stopping by :)

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello again bohemiotx. I'm glad you found your way back to me! Revision is always a good practice to employ. Actually I need to do more of it for my hubs, old and new. But alas, the "To Do" list grows. Thanks for commenting again.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just returned to this article and found your MBTI goodies under Persoanlity Pathways. I'm starting with the exercise pref's. this is great. I revise my hubs more than I write new ones, but I wrote about the First 50 for my hometown.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks bruzzbuzz. I only wish my students saw it this way. For some reason I keep encountering this weird phenomenon: the advice, handouts, and guidance I give to my students usually ends up in the trash (literally) and when their friends see me (yes, students that are not even mine ask me for help during my office hours), they ask for the same things and instantly do better in their classes. Go figure. I guess I am like their parent they don't want to listen to.

    • bruzzbuzz profile image


      6 years ago from Texas , USA

      This is a really good hub and one that new college students really should read. Students usually do not understand just how important it is to begin presenting themselves in a professional manner. Following the steps you have outlined, they begin the professional training that is important when they get to the next step.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      bohemiotx, Smarthinking is great. They have really done their research about giving good feedback in an asynchronous format.

      I love hearing the different approaches educators take to issues like skipping class. My personal favorite was a student who did not show up to my class for a few weeks. When our rotation for duties switched, I found out who the student was. Since I looked pretty much like my students, I blended in with the study hall and asked him his name and how the school year was going. He was about to start hitting on me when I said I was Ms. Bradberry. He was mortified and showed up to my class every day from then on.

    • bohemiotx profile image

      Joffre Meyer 

      7 years ago from Tyler, TX

      I enjoyed this article, Stephanie. I see you're a fan of MBTI too--one of my passions. I'm going to check out the smartthinking website. However, if a student showed up late, I used to say, "Yay, another student!" when I taught for five years at a small private HBCU. Also at the blackboard, I'd yell "What's up?" at students sneaking past my door to another class if they'd skipped mine.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      parrster, thank you so much. This was my first Hub. My original intent was to enter into the contest, but I missed the deadline.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      7 years ago from Australia

      This was very well presented!


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