Professors, create more opportunities to connect with students

Alyssa Ramos, Columnist

With a number of highly regarded professors among the faculty, students on the 40 Acres know that they are being taught and led by the best. Despite this understanding, students are also familiar with the feeling of being another masked face among the hundreds of other students in the classroom. 

Although students see their professors everyday, it can be intimidating to reach out to them. Students with social anxiety might not feel comfortable initiating contact with professors by going to office hours or engaging in small talk after class. 

To encourage better connections, professors should create more opportunities to build a relationship with their students. Having these extra opportunities will serve as a helping hand throughout students’ academic career, and further their chances of being successful after they graduate. 

Undeclared business freshman Helen Getachew said that providing these extra opportunities for students would help them understand and successfully learn how to network with others outside the university. 

“That’s one of the main benefits that should be emphasized. In college, it’s networking and connecting with other people,” Getachew said. “I feel like a lot of students would benefit if professors were more willing to provide that source because a lot of students are maybe hesitant or … we don’t know what’s on the other side in terms of opportunities after the four years or even within the four years. But [extra opportunities] would be very, very helpful and really would elevate the UT experience.” 

Opportunities such as introducing students to past co-workers or industry contacts by having guest speakers in their classes would give students the opportunity to network for their future and introduce them to future employers. 

Professors should support their students’ future aspirations by encouraging students to apply to outside internships and mentor them. Even by promoting and directing students toward their professions’ career center would give students the push they need. 

Robert Vega, Deputy Director of the Texas Engagement Center, said that the TEC has collaborated with professors to create curriculum and co-curriculum content for students in search of more. 

“We are really looking to build initiatives that faculty and career for student experiential learning, not just in the curriculum, but also co-curricular, experiences in order to make sure that we’re all doing that in unison.” Vega said. “There are the connections with opportunities, connections with employers, internships, mentorships, there’s leadership, there’s volunteer-isms. So how do we make sure that students are leaving here having had the ability to really have all of these touch points if they so choose to do so?”

Regardless of whether or not these initiatives are in place, students must be led in the right direction by their professors. Students shouldn’t have to compete for their professors’ attention, knowledge, and contacts. Adding extra opportunities for students would assist them on their journey at UT by allowing them to get to know their professors on a professional level. This advantage would also give students the confidence they need as they continue with their career. 

Students at UT deserve to feel like their professors care about their future. By adding extra opportunities for students to get to know their professors, students would receive additional support by having someone with experience on their side. 

Ramos is a journalism freshman from Laredo, Texas.