You might know that she sips on a tall Starbucks drink every morning during your 8 a.m., or that his desktop background is a picture of him with his wife and three kids. But how much do you actually know about your professors? And, on another note, how much do they know about you? Going in to ask your professor about what exactly opportunity cost is or how cell division works is a lot less intimidating after the initial introductions are over.
So how exactly do you introduce yourself to your professors? Her Campus Mizzou has a few tips for you on how to make sure that your teacher will recognize you among the sea of faces in your big lecture class in Middlebush.
Set Up a Meeting.
Now that classes have started, and we’re in the swing of things, it’s understandable if you feel a little awkward staying after class. This is your opportunity to visit your professor during the frequently mentioned “office hours.” Attending office hours works to your advantage. You’ll get to visit your professor where she spends most of her time outside of class. Among pictures of her family and friends, and when she’s sitting in a comfortable leather desk chair, she’ll be more relaxed and at ease. If you want to give her a fair warning, drop her an e-mail and ask if you can stop by. During syllabus week professors give students their office hours and availability for a reason. Professors love visitors during office hours, so they’ll be very excited to see you!
First of all, call him or her by the appropriate title.
Mr. or Mrs.? Professor? Doctor? If you aren’t sure how to address him, look back at the syllabus. Calling a professor a doctor when he doesn’t have a doctorate degree might make him a little uncomfortable. When in doubt, stick to professor. It’s always appropriate, especially for first introductions. In the future if he would like you to call him “Dan” or “Mike,” you’ve graduated to a first name basis. Congrats!
Cover the Basics.
Name. Year. Hometown. Name. Year. Hometown. Just like you need to memorize spelling rules like “I before e except after c,” you need to memorize the essentials for introducing yourself to any new person you meet. When meeting your professor, state your full name, year in school and where you’re from. A little context behind who you are will help your professor remember you and will also give him an opportunity to tell you about his personality and credentials.
Explain what the class means to you.
It’s OK to tell the professor how you feel about the class. If you’re nervous, let her know why. Never taken biology before? Or did you have a tough time with it in high school? Let her know what you struggled with, and she can offer you study tips or help you to get in touch with a teaching assistant. Excited about the class? Let her know that you’ve waited to get in to her class for two semesters and that you couldn’t be more thrilled to be taking it. Opening up about what the class means to you will break down any barriers of insecurity you have about meeting with your professor.
Prepare a question or two.
You might have a specific question to ask about a certain concept or expectations about the syllabus. If you just want to meet with your professor in order to establish a relationship and don’t have any questions in mind, then HerCampuscan help! Ask what study tips your professor recommends for retaining information in the course. You can also ask what the professor has noticed about the best ways for students to succeed in the class. Furthermore you can ask about how the course will help you with your major or future career goals. Professors have extensive background in the subjects they teach and will be able to help you apply the course material to your future plans. Believe it or not we have to take prerequisites for a reason -- they do have a higher purpose!
Extra Credit: Bring up something you read or saw that applies to the class.
Bringing an apple to your teacher is so last century, but bringing in an article or fact that you’ve already read about is just as enticing to a professor. College is all about exchanging and absorbing knowledge in order to apply it in the future. Who better to collaborate with than your professor? Showing a genuine interest in the course will make you the “teacher’s pet” -- in a good way!
HC Insider Tip:Following our tips is especially important when you are dealing with professors who teach subjects you’re genuinely interested in or who teach courses you know you might have difficulty in.
Behind the extensive knowledge they possess, professors are real people. Individuals who enter the fields of academia in the university setting are eager to share their knowledge and get to know the people they’re sharing it with. By taking the first step to get to know these skilled individuals, you just might find yourself with a lifelong connection and friend!
Here is a sample HBS application essay reviewed by our consultant Shana! To help you get the most out of it, she has added comments indicating the strongest areas of this essay for those who decide to apply to HBS. We made things easy for you: the gray boxes below contain the essay content, and all of the text in-between the boxes are Shana’s comments for the text.
It’s the first day of class at Harvard Business School. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this charged experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.
NOTE: This essay was written by one of our consultants—not an actual applicant. It’s meant as a demonstration of the kind of content we believe should go into the essay itself. This essay is copyrighted by The Art of Applying, and should not be copied. Plagiarism is when you present someone else’s work as your own. It is a serious issue; please don’t do it.
Here is the essay!
I’m thrilled to get to know each of you and hear your stories. But more than that, I’d like to publish them! As a writer at heart, I have a vision of how to market books in the rapidly changing landscape that is twenty-first century publishing.
Comments from Shana: Here, I can feel the applicant’s excitement jump off the page! I love how she is immediately showing interest in the other students. This is a good job explaining what her goal is in the very first paragraph.
My story begins in high school, where I served as editor of our school newspaper, The Green Light. Each week I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with the editor of our town’s newspaper, as he reviewed my work and offered suggestions to improve the articles written by my staff. When I got to college, not only did I join the newspaper, but I began to write fiction and poetry, and I was the only freshman admitted to an upperclassmen poetry seminar. Right after college, I moved to New York and took my first job as associate to the managing editor at Time Warner Books. My jaw dropped when I realized that the publication of a book requires so many more people than an author and an editor. I was amazed to discover the extensive team that included marketing staff, sales representatives, cover artists, publicists, and company executives.
Comments from Shana: She mentioned “story” in the first sentence in this paragraph. This is an interesting choice to extend the metaphor of writing stories/publishing throughout the essay.
I’ll never forget the day our CEO met with Madonna before he offered her a million dollar contract. Who knew that it wasn’t only the quality of the publication that determined its success, but like a tail wagging the dog, the decision of how profitable a title would be was often made in-house before the words were even written! In fact, I discovered that the marketing dollars were invested to yield the desired results. I was very curious about how the marketing and sales departments would ensure that Madonna’s book earned out the enormous author advance.
Comments from Shana: I’m glad that she going to tell us a fascinating story (the CEO meets Madonna!) that brings us into the action with her. In the beginning of the second sentence, she began with “Who knew.” When she uses this kind of unexpected sentence structure, she is really showing us her fun personality! Nice.
With the endorsement of the managing editor, I made a lateral move to work as a marketing assistant. Quickly I learned about how the marketing team plugged in metrics—such as comparable titles, an author’s following, and previous sales—in order to estimate likely revenue that would be generated by the new title. I gradually assumed responsibility for managing these estimation models for all book titles in the action-adventure genre. After a steep learning curve, my estimates routinely landed within 3 percent of actual sales, when the department average was 7 percent. People joked that I was psychic and should become a fortune teller. One day the VP of Marketing brought in a giant jar of jelly beans and announced that I was going to tell them exactly how many pieces of candy were in the jar. (I guessed 10,864 but was off by 231. I won the whole jar!)
Comments from Shana: So, I see that she wasn’t passively moved from one position to the other, but her questions and curiosity drove this move to become a marketing assistant. It’s good that she is showing us she is a person of action. In the last sentence, I can relate to her here as a human being. I can tell she has a good sense of humor along with excellent predictive skills. The writing paints her as very friendly, and relatable. That’s one thing that you want to accomplish through your essay—you want to come across as a likable person and not just deliver a list of achievements.
Two years later, I was thrilled to be offered a marketing position at Random House, but it was only six months later that Random House merged with Penguin, and in the process, there were hundreds of layoffs. There was more work for everyone, and we were scrambling to keep up with competition from new publishers like Amazon.com. In the middle of a marketing blitz for bestselling author TD Calhoun, the author’s agent informed us that Calhoun was going to go the nontraditional route and self-publish her next books; she felt she could market her own work through social media and keep a greater percentage of the process.
Comments from Shana: The admissions committee along with cohort peers are eager to hear about how you deal with adversity and make decisions in challenging situations. Here, the writer sounds like she is an innovator with a vision. When writing your essay, make sure to highlight your most valuable assets.
Employees in traditional publishing throughout New York were in despair. But as an avid user of social media, a passionate writer myself, and an experienced professional in the traditional publishing world, I was secretly excited about the possibilities. What if I could help merge the best of what the digital age offers authors with the best of what the big houses provided in order to create a new publishing format? Not only would I like to create a publishing house that is lean yet builds in marketing, sales, and editing, but I’d forgo the traditional advance for my authors and offer a commission-based model that would enable authors to keep at least forty percent of their profits. Although I have many ideas for how this new hybrid publishing model could work, I have even more questions, especially about the marketing and operations aspects. That’s why I’m so excited to be here at HBS. I hope to find answers by taking Marketing Segmentation with Professor Jones and E-commerce Productivity with Professor Allen.
Comments from Shana: This sentence is critical: “Although I have many ideas for how this new hybrid publishing model could work, I have even more questions, especially about the marketing and operations aspects.” She has to make it clear that although she has ideas for her career, there are absolutely missing pieces that can best be found at HBS. You never want the admissions committee or your peers to think you’re already a complete package and you’ve already got all the skills, knowledge, and experience you need.
Also, I’d like to start my own publishing industry club on campus. I know each of us has our own fascinating story to tell, so I hope you’ll join me as a marketer, sales rep, or business executive of our own HBS Publishing Club and turn everyone in our cohort into authors. I can’t wait to publish your titles and share your wise insights and experiences with a wide audience.
The Art of Applying team agrees that this is a great essay! One thing you may have noticed is that the essay writer didn’t include any information on her personal background or what family life was like growing up. This was a choice this particular author made, but it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t include information on your personal background. It just depends how you want to tell your story. We hope that this sample essay guides and inspires you as you work on your HBS introduction essay.
If want us to help you tell your own story, reach out and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to leave questions or comments below. Share this article with your friends if it helped you!