Your Questions, Answered by AEMB

How can I approach different professors to try and get to know them better?

The easiest way to get to know a professor is to take one of his or her classes. Professors like students who actively participate during class by answering questions or by asking some insightful questions of their own. Office hours are also a great way to get to know a professor and get some face time with them to make sure that the professor can recognize you. The more interaction you have with the professor, the easier it is to steer the conversation away from pure academics. Professors do a lot outside of the classroom, and nobody likes talking about grades and lectures all day.
Another way to get to know a professor is through research. Everybody likes to talk about their work, and if you can apply and get into their lab, it gives you a better opportunity to meet with and talk to the professor. Also, professors will host seminars about their research from time to time. Keep an eye out for announcements about them through your email or in the Whitaker lobby.
A third way is to meet the professor over lunch or coffee. If you do not know them well enough to ask them outright, there are some great events like “Take a Prof to Lunch” which you can use to get some more face time.

How should I go about asking for a letter of recommendation?

The first step is deciding who you would like to ask for a letter. It is always better to choose somebody who really knows you rather than somebody who is well-known. Once you have selected your best supporters, approach them during office hours or after class. It is important to ask for a letter of recommendation face to face. If this is impossible, email can work, but it is harder to get a strong response. Either way, it is important to make sure that you ask the recommender if they can “strongly support” your endeavor with a letter. It is crucial to stress the “strongly.” It allows the recommender to be more truthful as to how good of a letter they can give you. From there, if they agree to write the letter, you will need to forward the information about properly submitting the letter immediately along with a CV or resume. Great recommenders will not need the extra information, but it does help give them something to glance back at to refresh their memory.

What are some great stress relieving activities?

The best stress reliever is sleep. It is sometimes hard to get enough of it, but sleeping is very important to keep you mentally healthy and refreshed. It is also a great memory booster. Studying material and then going to sleep helps retain the material that you just studied.
Exercise can also be a great stress reliever. Getting your blood flowing is a welcome break from the grind of homework and studying, plus it’ll help with your overall energy levels and keep you more on task when you do have to hit the books.
And don’t forget to make time for a social life! Hanging out with friends doing whatever it is you guys enjoy doing together is a foolproof way to reduce stress.

How do you guys go about studying for tests?

It’s hard to stay focused for an extended period of time, so breaking study sessions up into manageable chunks (1-2 hours) with short breaks between to stretch your legs, refill on water (or coffee), or run around and scream. Distractions are everywhere, especially on electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, etc.) so a tactic to keep those to a minimum is to print out all of your study materials beforehand so you won’t get pulled into all that the Internet has to offer. If you can’t print out what you need, there are some great extensions available on Firefox and Chrome that will block certain websites to keep you from getting off topic (StayFocusd and Facebook Nanny, among others). And remember, it doesn’t matter how much you study for a test if you fall asleep during it or sleep through it altogether! Make sure you get enough rest so that you are alert during the test so you can perform your best!

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