Build Relationships with Professors to Fund Your Education

April 4, 2019
Maya Mundell

Your professors and teachers aren’t as scary as they seem, I promise. In fact, your professors can be your best advocates and greatest resources when it comes to paying for your education.

I’ll tell a short story to show you.
I have a friend who scored an internship with the United Nations in Jordan during her junior year of college. However, there was one problem; the internship was unpaid. She didn’t have enough money to support herself and  work for free abroad.
Determined to take advantage of the great opportunity, she asked a professor from our major department (we were both Near Eastern Studies majors) about funding available for students. The concerned professor went out of his way and lobbied for her. He made sure she got a piece of department funding so she could do the internship. Without this positive relationship with her professor, she likely wouldn’t have asked him for support when she needed it the most. With out that relationship, she might not have been awarded extra funding from our major department and would’ve ultimately been unable to take advantage of that great opportunity!
It goes to show you that building meaningful relationships with your professors can pay—literally.
Professors that know you well will also be more inclined to recommend you to scholarships, fellowships, grants, internships and other types of educational funds. This is because many professors are just helpful people who like to support their students and because they’ll know enough about you (your academic major, campus activities, etc.) to be able to guess which programs you’d be eligible for.
Here’s a personal example— teachers, professors, and academic advisors would always tell me about scholarships and other funding programs that few students knew about. They would even sometimes volunteer to write my recommendation letters for the application. This absolutely gave me a huge advantage and a better chance of being awarded as the competition wasn’t so steep and great recommendation letters strengthened my applications.
Alright, to bring the message home, let me say this again. Relationships with your professors, teachers, advisors, and guidance counselors MATTER when it comes to finding alternative ways to fund your education.
Don’t believe the hype that tells you that you have to be valedictorian in order to get higher education for free. Finding money for your education isn’t necessarily about being the “smartest” student. It’s often about doing what most students won’t do or what most students never think to do.
So here’s a task for all you students out there. Start building better relationships with your teachers and professors by….

Being more engaged and active during class/lecture: Ask questions, share your opinion, etc.  Asking professors for their advice about doing well in the course. You can literally ask “what’s your advice on how to do well in this class?” Attend office hours or out of class activities or sessions with your professors. Don’t be shy! Mix and mingle, start a conversation about ANYTHING if you’re nervous at first. You’ll see that your professors and other university faculty members will be happy to engage with you.

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