5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Tutor or Lecturer

5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Tutor or Lecturer

Uni is tough.

As well as classes, deadlines, exams, accommodation in Liverpool and extra curricular activities to deal with, you’ve also got to worry about whether your tutors and lecturers like you or not.

Some of you may be sitting there thinking, “What do I care if my tutor likes me or not?”

And to some degree, you’d be right.

But if you thought it didn’t matter one bit, then you’d be wrong.

In reality, having a good relationship with your tutor can actually make a huge difference to your success or failure at university.

It can even be the thing standing between your current and dream grade in a module.

But why is that, you ask?

Well, there are few reasons a positive student-tutor relationship will help you massively in the long run. These are outlined below.

Why have a good relationship with your tutor?

Your tutors and lecturers have more say than you think in your final grade.

Though your exams are marked by external examiners…and every essay you submit to your tutor is anonymous…your relationship with your professors could actually work in your favour, should the jury be out on your final grade.

For example, lets say your overall average, at the end of your degree, places you on a borderline between a 2:2 and a 2:1 grade. In some universities, your average will determine this outright (e.g. an average of 59.776578% would be a 2:2).

But in some universities, tutors may look over some or all of your past coursework and decide on the grade they feel you deserve. Which of course, is gonna be a good thing if your tutor likes you.

Even if your average doesn’t fall on the borderline, your tutor may help decide your grade if there are mitigating circumstances that affect your performance. For example, if you became ill during your degree.

There are a few other reasons why building and maintaining a good relationship with your tutor will only strengthen your degree:

  • They’ll be happier to give you help with an assignment or problem, should you ever need it.
  • They’ll be more likely to cut you some slack if you ever slip up; for example, missing a class or being late with a deadline. (Providing they’re rare occurrences of course!)
  • When a tutor sees you’re going out of your way to make an effort and trying your best to learn, they’re more likely to do whatever it takes to help you succeed.

Maybe you and your tutor got off on the wrong foot this semester? Or perhaps you’re getting by fine right now, but would like to make more of an effort to show you’re tutor you’re really down for success.

These five tips below explain how you can improve your relationship with tutors…even those you don’t really like (or who don’t like you).

1. Don’t just show up to class, but be prepared.

Turning up to class doesn’t just mean sitting at the back, browsing Instagram and pretending to listen.

When you attend a lecture or tutorial, you should work on being PRESENT, soaking up every benefit the class has to offer and not letting your mind be somewhere else.

Here’s how to be more prepared in class:

  • Turn up five minutes before the class. This might mean setting your watch to be five minutes early, or tweaking your personal timetable so that your classes start five minutes ahead. When you arrive slightly early, it enables you to gather your thoughts and get into the right frame of mind for the class. Alternatively you could use the time to refresh yourself on the reading material for the class.
  • Sit near to the front, or somewhere in the middle. If you consistently sit at the back of the room (when closer seats are available), this sends a message that you’re not fully invested in the class.
  • Be prepared. This means having done any required reading already, and having everything you need with you – pens, notebook, paper, textbook, reading material, other stationary, and any other tools you use, like a laptop or Dictaphone.
  • Make sure your homework/coursework is completed, and to a good standard. This is a sure sign to your tutor that you are invested in your class and the module you are taking. Make sure it is easy to read and, in subjects like Maths or Physics, show your work.
  • Be ready to answer your tutor’s questions, and ask interesting questions that show you’ve read and digested the reading material. Avoid asking irrelevant questions or ones that could derail into debate. Wait till after class and ask your tutor privately.

2. Show that you’re proactive by booking in extra time with your tutor.

If you check your student handbook, you’ll see that your weekly contact hours as outlined in your timetable is the bare minimum you should be spending on uni work.

And yup, the actual number of hours you’re expected to spend studying is much higher.

Believe it or not, your tutors are there to help you! Many students don’t make the most of their professors’ knowledge and wisdom, and you’ll notice the ones who DO put in a little extra tutor-time will generally achieve better grades.

However, don’t go overboard! Pestering and hounding your tutor for one-on-one time is likely to become annoying for them and you don’t want to be in their bad books!

Here are a few acceptable ways you can get in some more face-time with your tutor.

  • When planning a big essay, ask if they mind looking over your plan with you. This can really benefit your finished assignment, as you can be sure you’re on the right track before you even start. Your tutor will be happy to give you feedback and may even be able to point you in the direction of some good resources.
  • Got a question or unique insight about the reading material? Hang back after class and ask them about it. Or, if you’re really set on demystifying certain aspects of the module, send an email to your tutor and ask for a meeting. They’ll be happy for you to stop by their office at a convenient time and explain anything you’re struggling with.
  • Practice papers are one of the best ways to study for exams (everyone knows that!). But the best way to check a practice paper is to get your tutor to mark it, which they will absolutely be happy to do. Afterwards you could ask them for a one-on-one session to go over what you got wrong.

3. Pay attention and be engaged.

This sounds easy, but there are actually tons of ways to be engaged in class…some of which you may not be doing.

Though showing up and being prepared (as in tip #1) is definitely the foundation, tutors want to know that they are teaching real human beings, with thoughts, opinions and working brains. After all, you are supposed to be the next generation of leaders…so professors want to know they’re doing a good job!

Here are some ways to really be more engaged in class.

  • Show your tutor you’re really thinking. This means not just listening to them and reading the material, but really absorbing the material and thinking critically about it. Ask questions. Connect concepts to other things you’ve seen or heard…maybe even other modules, if it fits. Show your tutor you connect with the material in some way and aren’t just jumping through hoops.
  • Keep up with news, updates and developments in your field outside of your course. This can be through books, podcasts, videos, articles or social media. Mention anything you find interesting or relevant to your tutor; ask them for their opinion.
  • Leave only when the class or lecture is actually finished. This generally means when your tutor has finished talking and rounded off the class – not when the bell sounds or you happen to check your watch. Give your tutor time to finish what he/she is saying and they’ll see that you respect them, and the class.
  • Don’t be intent on having long, intense debates with your tutor. Yes, ask insightful questions and offer alternative points of view, but don’t go out to contradict everything he/she says. Long, irrelevant debates can derail the class and be exhausting and frustrating, so save any long-winded questions for the end of the class.
  • Maintain an open mind. If you go into a class disliking your subject or even your tutor themselves, this will emit a negative vibe and affect how you perform in the class. It’s important to stay positive and ask yourself, “What can I get out of this class today?” rather than thinking it’s “pointless” or “not worth it”. This attitude can transform even your least favourite class.

4. Remember that your tutor is an actual person.

Yes, your tutor is a person of authority and there to teach you.

However, outside of their role, they’re also a regular person, with interests, hobbies, and opinions, just like you.

Finding ways to connect with your tutor on a deeper academic level will make you memorable to them and show that you’re a grown up – not just another disinterested student.

However, you need to remember that your tutor is not your peer. So always treat them with respect; don’t swear or make offensive jokes…and don’t be overly interested, otherwise it could come off as annoying or creepy!

  • Listen to what your tutor says – not just about the course material but in general. Check out any books, movies or documentaries your tutor may recommend…then reference it when you get an appropriate chance.
  • By the same token, stay behind after class and give your tutor recommendations on anything you think he/she would like, including books, articles, podcasts, movies, and Netflix shows. They’ll be able to see that you too, are a real person, and that you respect them as your tutor.
  • Little things, like asking them how their weekend was, go a long way to improving your relationship with your tutor. If you and your tutor have had a negative relationship before now then this could come off as a little strange, so only do it with professors you are already on steady ground with, and who maybe won’t mind sharing aspects of their private life.
  • Exhibit character traits that any human would want to see in others: honesty, respect, integrity, etc. Simply maintaining good character and treating your classmates with respect will go a long way to earning your tutor’s respect (which leads us onto the next tip).

5. Treat others how you would like to be treated.

This is a pretty basic rule, but it’s important nevertheless. Your behaviour towards your classmates and others around you will go along way to creating a positive relationship with your tutor.

  • Listen to other students in class when they’re talking. Don’t interrupt them. If you want to disagree with a point they’ve made or offer an alternative perspective, then wait until they have finished talking.
  • Don’t jibe or make fun of others, especially if they make a mistake or get a bad grade. That person might shrug it off or laugh because they are embarrassed, but you shouldn’t be tempted to join in.
  • Don’t hog classroom debates. Remember that if you think a question will take a while to dissect, perhaps wait until the end to ask it. If you feel a discussion has gone on for too long between you and another classmate, you could ask them if they’d mind continuing the debate after class.
  • If part of a group project, don’t dominate the others. There is nothing wrong with taking a leadership role (and there often needs to be a leader in group work situations), but allow others to have their say, and listen to everyone’s ideas before you all decide as a group what to do.
  • Help anyone who needs help. Offering to explain something to or tutor a fellow student shows you’re supportive of others.
  • Lead others by example. If your classmates are being jerks, you can still show that you’re taking the class seriously. If someone’s incessant whispering is annoying you, you can ask them politely to be quiet. But don’t get angry or make a big fuss. Your tutor will notice your maturity in these scenarios and your ability to rise above it.

Above all, remember that you don’t have to be the smartest student at uni. Most tutors will recognise when a student really is doing their best, and will do everything in their power to help them reach success,

By simply following the steps above, showing up, being present, doing what’s expected (perhaps remembering the name of your tutor’s dog!), you’ll go a long way to improving your relationship with your tutor.

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