Communicate to Succeed

As a Success Coach, I speak with many students each day.  A topic that often comes up in conversations is communication with instructors. The value of communicating with your instructor soon and often cannot be overstated. Whether you are looking for more feedback on an assignment, or informing of a family emergency, keeping your instructor in the loop can improve your educational experience.



Here are six tips I recommend for successful communication with your instructor:

  1. Be proactive – Look over your assignments and schedule ahead of time. If you have a question or problem, try to reach out to your instructor as soon as you can. Remember, responses usually won’t be instantaneous so don’t wait until it’s an emergency.
  2. Trust but verify – You may trust your instincts that you fully understand the topic or assignment at hand, but have a nagging doubt in the back of your mind. Don’t be afraid to get verification! Most of the time it is better to ask than assume.
  3. Be specific with your questions – Let’s say for example you’re struggling to understand an assignment in your class. Before messaging your instructor, take a moment to think specifically about why you’re struggling to understand the assignment. The more specific the question, the easier it is for your instructor to answer, and the more likely their answer is to help you.
  4. Provide context – Sometimes an instructor’s response depends on the greater context of the situation, so don’t skimp on the details. Allow them to see the full picture.
  5. Be patient – Remember that your instructor also has other student’s to answer to, and many assignments to grade. It may take some time until you get your response. Hence my earlier recommendation of being proactive.
  6. Be polite/courteous – We all have bad days, and sometimes things just don’t go our way. You may even believe you have been treated unfairly. It is during these times where it can become easy to let emotions get the best of us. Try to remain calm and express your concerns in a professional and polite manner. The golden rule of treating others the way you would like to be treated applies here.
Chris Faulkner
Chris Faulkner, Student Success Coach