Making a good impression with an online professor requires ambition. Unless your teacher uses video conferencing, you can’t interact like you would in a physical classroom. Consequently, it’s easy to go unnoticed, potentially making coursework boring and dry.
However, you can still be a standout student, earning high grades for your diligent efforts. Follow the tips below, and your teacher will deem it a pleasure to have you in their class.
1. Introduce yourself.
At the start of your course, reach out to your professor by email. Introduce yourself, stating why you’re grateful to be in their class. For instance, you could mention how it will benefit your career goal. Or, perhaps you were drawn by the instructor’s reputation for making the subject fascinating.
If you don’t know your professor’s background, see if they have a profile on the school website. If not, check for a bio on LinkedIn, noting their achievements. When writing your opening email, refer to one or more of them, conveying your admiration.
Also, before making first contact, review your course syllabus. It will outline your professor’s expectations, key assignments, scheduled exams, and educational resources, such as textbooks. Then, mention some course activities you eagerly anticipate or those of special value for you. This is also your chance to ask any questions and clarify information.
In this and all future emails, keep your tone respectful. Reading your words aloud is one way to gauge if they’re appropriate. Then, before hitting “Send,” proofread your message carefully. Remember, your professor will catch any errors in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar, souring your effort to make a good impression.
One way to promote accuracy is by using Grammarly, a top-notch proofreading software program. If you don’t currently have a subscription, it’s a worthwhile investment. Your writing will look nicely polished after Grammarly has tweaked it to perfection.
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2. Heed communication guidelines.
The syllabus should include your teacher’s contact information, including how and when to reach them. Be sure to honor these instructions. For example, some professors have a few email addresses, each created for messages on a particular topic. If your teacher employs this system, ensure that your correspondence goes to the right address.
Additionally, there may be other ways to connect. Some teachers list their direct phone numbers and when they’re available for calls. Your professor may have virtual office hours, dedicated to answering emails. Whatever the arrangement, keep to the time frame specified for communicating outside class.
Then, when interacting, strive to be clear and concise. Long-winded inquiries consume your teacher’s limited time, straining their patience. Also, avoid writing long walls of text, using short paragraphs instead. Being succinct will score points with your professor.
3. Convey enthusiasm!
An upbeat attitude will make a good impression with your online teacher. In all your correspondence, show an eagerness to learn and meet the course requirements. Then, should you need a future reference for a job or graduate school, your bright energy will stand out in your instructor’s mind.
Conversely, if you mostly complain, they won’t be inclined to help you. Plus, they’ll remember you as a problematic student.
When joining discussion boards, base your posts on relevant course material and offer positive input. This should spur lively conversations with your classmates, expanding the topic.
If possible, strengthen your points with facts and references. From this, your professor will see you’ve gone the extra mile with research. Additionally, everyone reading your posts will gain pertinent knowledge. If you have related life experience, share it with your peers, showing practical application of the course material.
We all tend to retain information that includes vivid imagery and firsthand testimony. By supplying both on the discussion board, you’ll help your classmates learn, much to the delight of your professor!
4. Follow the rules of netiquette.
The term “netiquette” refers to the proper way to write for online courses. Here are five cardinal principles to observe.
- Avoid using all caps. In the world of online education, capitalized words are equivalent to shouting, causing alarm.
- Never use texting abbreviations in place of complete words. While these shortcuts are fine for social media, they cast a shadow on your student image, as though you have poor grammar and spelling skills.
- Conform to accepted fonts. Some online schools let you choose the font style for writing. Others specify which to use. Even if you’re allowed any font, select Arial or Times New Roman, the two styles preferred by most schools. Also, use the right font size, 10 to 12 point, unless your school states otherwise.
- Make sure your writing passes this test of appropriateness — if you can’t say the same words in person, they don’t suit an online course.
- For all academic documents, follow the APA writing style. To help you format papers correctly, here are tips and samples from EasyBib.
5. Show initiative.
Introducing yourself when the course starts is one way to demonstrate ambition. Additionally, if questions arise about coursework, contact your instructor promptly. Since you’ve already tried to establish rapport, your teacher will likely be responsive.
However, if you can’t make a connection, email or call a fellow student, and see if they can assist you. Also, check discussion forums. Your peers may have raised similar questions and shared their answers.
When possible, take the lead in posting on the discussion board. Your professor will be monitoring the board activity. Being the first to arrive will catch their eye, fostering a good impression.
Posting regularly shows you’re engaged with the course material. However, don’t hog the limelight by giving your opinion on all your classmates’ comments. Such upstaging behavior may spark anger in your peers, causing them to report you and tarnishing your reputation.
From U.S. News, here are tips for writing discussion board assignments.
6. Be detail-minded and organized.
When responding to posts on discussion forums, address your classmates by name. This gesture shows you’re paying close attention, inviting camaraderie.
Another way to show attentiveness is by submitting assignments well before deadlines. To keep up with due dates, mark them on a calendar and refer back every few days. Since the Internet is subject to glitches, avoid getting waylaid by adding extra time to your submission schedule.
To streamline your work, rather than doing assignments directly on the course website, type them first in MS Word and run them through proofreading software. Then, paste your finalized version online. With this strategy, you’ll avoid hasty mistakes and the headache of correcting them.
Note that uploading files can be tricky. To recall where you’ve stored assignments, keep a logical filing system. Divide large projects into segments, with separate folders for each.
By following directions to the letter and being organized, you’ll make a positive impression with your online professor.
Unless your teacher gives live lectures, they can’t see you online. Accordingly, they base your grade on everything you write. To create a positive image, introduce yourself early on and adhere to syllabus instructions. Infuse your work with enthusiasm, observe the five rules of netiquette, and refine your writing skills.
When given a discussion board assignment, try to post first, flagging your teacher’s eye. Also, turn in work well before looming deadlines. To promote rapport with your classmates, when responding to their posts, address them by name. Show courtesy and respect in all your interactions, and you’ll be well regarded.
Going forward, when you need a glowing reference, you can approach this professor. Having made a great impression, remembering you will surely prompt a smile!