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Q:

How do you build relationships with professors at Dartmouth?

A: Gabe Gilbert '23

Relationships with faculty at a school like Dartmouth can be intimidating. I'm happy to share a bit about how I've developed relationships with professors here!

If you're a student at Dartmouth, I think it's critical that you take smaller classes to help ease you into making relationships with faculty. The smaller class size means you'll have plenty of opportunities to interact not only with your classmates, but your professor too! Spending more time actively engaging in class, which happens with seminars, mean more time you're acclimating to the people around you, and it just makes it easier to schedule a meeting with a professor and if you're anything like me, to ask more questions! The good news is that every department has smaller classes of maybe 5 to 10 students — you just might have to take them after you've taken introductory or prerequisite courses. Especially in departments like linguistics, the introductory class is medium-sized (usually from 15 to 40 students) but after that, intermediate classes stay in the teens and advanced seminars and the like are under 10 students each. 

But meeting faculty doesn't need to only happen in your major! You should absolutely take advantage of all the departments Dartmouth offers to browse through interesting sounding classes, especially those that have few students in them. A low enrollment is absolutely not a reason to not take a class. By all means, I think you should consider that an invitation! Some of my favorite Dartmouth classes had very few students enrolled, and remain ones where I made stronger connections with my classmates and my peers alike.

After you've met faculty, you're probably wondering how you can get to know them better outside of class. Some of the ways that I've gotten to know my professors better are through taking on research projects with them. Though you can totally ask professors to get coffee or lunch, and I've done that exact thing before, I think working with professors in one-on-one research projects is a great way to get to know them better, get to know their work and experience better, and also jump into their field headfirst. Professors I've had weekly meetings with for my research projects remain my advisors and I find myself leaning more and more on them as I jump into the process of writing an undergraduate thesis. They're the ones I go to for recommendation letters and any questions I have, whether academic or personal regarding Dartmouth where I think their advice is critical. 

At the end of the day, professors at Dartmouth are so much more accessible than any teachers I had in high school. They're super welcoming and warm and especially after you've had a smaller class with them, they become so much more accessible! As a freshman, trying to talk to professors and get to know them better to work up the confidence for a recommendation letter request was nerve-wracking, but through smaller classes and working with them on projects, I truly ended up creating a little squad of amazing scholars who have positively impacted my time at Dartmouth and will absolutely continue to do so after I graduate. Hope this helps!

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