November 2, 2023 by

A few weeks before I arrived at Cedarville University, my academic advisor sent an informative email to me and her other new advisees — freshmen who had no idea what a four-year plan was or how to scan Cedarville’s academic catalog to begin planning their degrees. At the time, I was receiving a constant influx of emails from various departments on campus, and I often quickly skimmed them and deleted them, but this email seemed very personal. There were two bullet points in her paragraphs that I wasn’t expecting to find in an academic email, and one of them was an invitation to join her in studying a personal Bible plan. She offered to be an accountability partner for any student who was looking for a way to read the Bible consistently. The other bullet point that surprised me was an invitation to apply for a Study Abroad program. She mentioned that she would be teaching both an Introduction to Literature course and an upper-level Irish Writers course in Dublin, Ireland. Both of these bullet points piqued my curiosity — this advisor seemed different from any teacher I had known in the past. She seemed interested, not only in serving me as a student during my four years at Cedarville, but in connecting with me on a deeper level. 

My advisor has continually sacrificed her time and energy to mentor me for three years. Connecting with her has changed my college experience in many positive ways, and, ultimately, she has had a long-lasting impact on my life. When I began to implement her personal Bible study into my daily schedule, she offered to meet me for lunch to discuss Deuteronomy, a book that I struggled to understand when I was a freshman. She also invited me to visit Heritage Fellowship Church, the local church she attended. Since visiting HFC, I have become a producer in the church and not just a consumer. I have served in both youth ministry and worship ministry, and I joined a community group that meets weekly. Without the influence of my sweet advisor, I might not have found HFC or implemented a consistent Bible reading plan into my life. I also would not have known about the opportunity to study abroad. I traveled to Ireland in May of 2022, and I experienced a new culture that broadened my perspective of the world. While exploring the coastlines and cities of the Emerald Isle, my friends and I discovered authentic castles and historic locations that enhanced the knowledge I gained from my literature class. 

Group of students with a couple professors in front of large rock.

I recommend that each student on Cedarville’s campus should connect with the professors in their department. Each professor at Cedarville has unique stories and experiences, and as students, we have the privilege of gleaning knowledge from them during our time on campus.

Several professors in my department — the Department of English, Literature, and Modern Languages — have supported me and given me opportunities to grow in my professional field and my walk with God. These relationships led me to consider attending graduate school to further my education, and several of them have challenged me to work jobs and take classes that I had never considered taking before.  

The first class I took at Cedarville was with a professor of American literature. After meeting with her several times over the course of my first semester, she eventually referred me to interview for a position at the Writing Center, an on-campus writing lab where student peer tutors workshop students’ papers. Another professor who I took several classes with recommended that I serve as a grammar tutor at The Cove, the University’s academic enrichment center. 

The professors at Cedarville offer support in areas that extend far beyond academics, and networking within a department can benefit students while they study at Cedarville, when they begin searching for jobs in their fields, and while they constantly grow in their faith. From my experience, there are several ways in which students can easily connect with their professors and begin building rapport. 

  1. Attend your professor’s office hours. When I met with my academic advisor for the first time, she gave me a schedule for her weekly office hours. Initially, I was certain that I would never need to go to her for help; however, within the first week of classes, I was knocking on her door in a narrow hallway in Williams Hall. Going to a professor’s office can be nerve-wracking, but it can also be one of the best decisions that a student can make. Most of the professors on campus will have weekly office hours that students can attend if they have questions about their career, need help with the content of a class, or just want to chat with a professor about life. Our president, Dr. Thomas White, assures students that if they ever need to talk to someone about their spiritual life or something that they are struggling with, they can go to their professors. He states that the professors will be happy to listen and help in any way they can. In my experience, I have found his words to be absolutely true. This is a unique characteristic about Cedarville University that makes it so special — the professors truly care about their students, and they want to see them succeed in both the classroom and in life. Attending a professor’s office hours allows the professor to get to know the student better, and it also shows the professor that the student cares about his or her education and future.
  2. Ask a professor to get coffee or lunch together. If you walk into Chuck’s, Cedarville’s dining hall, at any point during the day, you will likely see a professor grabbing a meal with a student. For example, I often see many Bible professors having conversations with students over scrambled eggs and sausage. Or, if you’re craving some caffeine, you can walk down the steps to Rinnova, and you will be just as likely to find a professor chatting about life or academics over a cup of coffee or tea. If a student is particularly interested in speaking with a professor outside of class, he or she can reach out to that professor and ask them to meet for coffee or a meal. In the past, I have contacted at least six professors in my department, and all of them have been happy to meet me outside of class to chat. I have met with professors to discuss graduate school applications, conduct interviews for scholarly papers, and to simply ask for their advice or wisdom. These meetings are especially helpful for a student who is trying to figure out what they would like to do with the degree that they are studying for. My professors have often given me ideas for different paths that I could pursue after graduation.
  3. Attend department gatherings and go to Majors Assembly. Usually, each department will host an event to encourage department-wide interaction. These events are great opportunities to chat with your professors and fellow students in your major! There have been many times when a small group of students would stay a few minutes later just to continue to chat with various professors that they might not be seeing as often as they would like. Attending these gatherings also allows me to see my friends in the department; I’ve made some of my closest friends at these events!
    Another opportunity to interact with professors is to go to the Majors Assembly. The Majors Assembly is an event held during the chapel hour that is designated for announcements and fellowship with your department’s professors and students. This is an event that is built into students’ schedules — it’s during the chapel hour, so all you have to do is find the building your department is hosting in!

Cedarville University’s campus is special. The hope that both students and professors share in Jesus Christ allows us to bond and build relationships that will last for a lifetime, and these bonds aren’t just made between students. Building rapport with professors allows students to connect with them on a more meaningful level, and in doing so, they may not only gain information about their degree and their career, but they may also gain invaluable experiences. Cedarville’s professors are genuine, kind, and caring, and they truly want to help their students in any way possible. In my experience, there are three simple ways to connect personally with each of your professors: attend their office hours, ask them to get coffee or lunch with you, and attend department meetings and the Majors Assemblies. These methods will surely get your foot in the door and initiate the beginning of many opportunities. 

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in: ,