Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Say This, NOT That, to Your Professor: a review of a book every college student should read

I dedicated a third of my book to elucidate the value of building relationships with professors because it is one of the most important factors in your college success. In addition to improving your grades, your relationships with your professors will directly impact the amount of scholarships and awards you win and can also give you incredible guidance when it comes to finding your first job out of college.

And when you move into a mentorship relationship with a professor you will gain some of the most invaluable benefits - the kind that occur when a professor looks you in the eye and tells you what he or she sees in you, your potential.

I owe so much to the wonderful professors I met in college who raised my bar higher than I had set for myself. There is nothing more powerful in college.

But building these kinds of relationships with professors is not automatic. It takes time, hard work (in class), and specific communication skills

The answer to building these communication skills and knowing exactly how to handle every professorial situation is Say This, NOT That to Your Professor, Ellen Bremen's new book. 
Ellen is an award-winning community college professor and writes the blog The Chatty Professor

She is also a great friend and partner to me. We wrote our books around the same time and had many great conversations about student success. What impressed me most about Ellen is how much she cares about you

Ellen has a very busy life (i.e. 2 kids). In addition to being a professor and a mom, she goes above and beyond in her professional life. It was so clear from talking to her that she didn't have any self-interest in writing this book. She is still a professor and is very happy in this role. She isn't trying to be a "writer" or gain fame and fortune. This book was a labor of love to help you.

And wow, will it help you

This book is such a useful, practical guide that will give you exactly what to say and what to do in the most common challenging scenarios that you will encounter in college. 

As I read Ellen's book I found myself thinking....yes....yes...yes....YES!!!!

She shares insider advice that you can't get anywhere else. 

My favorite part about the book is that you don't necessarily have to read the whole thing all at once. I highly recommend purchasing it and having it in your backpack during each semester. The chapters are organized so that you can quickly turn to the section you need most. For example:

Did you get a zero on a test? There's a chap for that.

Do you want to find out what's on the test? There's a chap for that.

Do you need to conquer procrastination? There's a chap for that.

Do you need help when work is conflicting with class? There's a chap for that.

Do you need to know the best way to email a professor? There's a chap for that.

Do you need to report a professorial problem? There's a chap for that.

Say This, NOT That to Your Professor is also jam packed with interesting, entertaining, and even funny stories Ellen has encountered with students. You will relate to the scenarios she explains, and will be able to see yourself or your classmates in these stories. The book opens with the following scenario:

Nicole, a student advisee, sat in my office, firing off complaints about her professor.

In this case, Nicole was pissed because she couldn’t follow what was happening in class.

I said, “So what have you told the professor about this?”

Nicole replied, “Nothing. I don’t know what to say.”

I said, “Well, how can the professor help you if she doesn’t know that you’re struggling?”

Nicole shot back, “I’m just going to fail. I know it.”

“Well, you don’t have to fail. You could go talk to the prof.”

“But I don’t get what’s going on. She doesn’t really care, anyway. If she did, she’d know that I’m struggling. It’s not like my grades have been good.”

“Do you want her to come to you?” I challenged, sincerely, but firmly.
Nicole didn’t answer.

“Seriously, Nicole,” I said, looking right in her eyes. “What’s your role in getting your needs met here? Isn’t this your education?”

Nicole still didn’t say anything.

Just reading our exchange, you may think I was being confrontational, but Nicole and I had an excellent relationship. I knew I could speak to her straight. But my words weren’t making an impact.

I realized that the student just didn’t know what to say.

Ellen's book will give you the words to say, and help you build the kind of professorial relationships that top students enjoy. It's not about sucking up. It's not about being perfect. It's about knowing what to say so that your true self can shine through and you can make the most of the relationships with the incredible people standing up to teach you every day. 

If you ever have any questions about your professorial relationships/scenarios, Ellen is so great at offering personalized helpful advice. You can contact her here

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