Free food for thought

More students need to get to know their professors.

Aditi Pradeep

At this time in the
semester we all get emails about taking our professors to lunch. While the incentive isn’t exactly overwhelming, students should take advantage of the offer.

The University of Minnesota encourages its students to take their professor out for a meal free of charge. These University-wide programs are offered by groups like the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and the College of Liberal Arts Student Board. Students can sign up now to meet with one of their teachers.

Students should know having lunch with an educator works heavily in their favor. Through these programs, students are able to connect with educators on a personal level — something that unfortunately can’t happen more often.

Teachers receive hundreds of requests for letters of recommendation in which they can’t make out an individual from a sea of nameless faces. Professors are more likely to personalize their letter if they know a student on a personal basis. By getting your foot in the door and face in their head, you’re setting yourself up for a glowing letter of recommendation later.

Taking an educator out to lunch gives students an advantage. If a professor builds a relationship with a student, they may come to understand a student’s personal and professional interests. Meeting for pizza may be the first step in forming goals or helpful strategies if a student is struggling in class.

However, the benefits do not end with students. Professors are flattered that their students are willing to see them outside a classroom setting. Weekly classes and discussions go by more smoothly when a professor knows who’s who.

At the end of the day, professors are people too. Hearing students’ ambition and admiration for their field must be a satisfying feeling. Simply let your professor know that their effort is not wasted.

From this experience, conversation will naturally flow toward professional interests. Students can network with teachers who are also useful industry professionals.

Students and professors live in symbiotic system. We can learn a lot from each other, but only if we allow ourselves to form relationships.

Take the time to tell your professor that you acknowledge them and their efforts — and who doesn’t like free food?