Regardless of where you are in your undergraduate career, you should be developing relationships with professors. You can start working on these relationships as early as a freshman. These relationships are vital for your academic and professional achievements. In this article, we discuss why these relationships are so important. Additionally, we list out 5 steps on how to develop relationships with professors.

Why relationships with professors are so important

Having a relationship with a professor can be beneficial in many ways:

  • Relationships strengthen mental health
  • Relationships provide a system of support
  • Develop lifelong friendships
  • You can expand your network
  • Professors are highly esteemed
    • So, graduate schools give Letters of Recommendation (LORs) from professors more credibility
  • etc.

There are some obvious dos and don’ts when it comes to developing relationships. Most importantly, don’t develop a relationship solely for the reason of getting something out of it. For example, you should not develop a relationship expecting to receive a LOR. For a relationship to succeed, there needs to be symbiotic benefits. A professor needs to feel that their work is valued by the student. The student needs to feel valued by the professor. If one party does not share benefits, the relationship is likely to fail.

So, for the students, do care about the professors work. Do what you can to organize their classes. Help their students. Show gratitude when professors benefit you with a strengthened network and LORs. Doing these things will ensure that your relationship grows past your experience as an undergrad.

However, there are some benefits that strictly help students prepare for admissions. Students who have strong relationships with professors often receive strong LORs. When a law school admissions board reviews 2 applicants with similar profiles and resumes, they will likely admit the applicant with more genuine LORs. If you prepare early by befriending professors, you may be seen as more unique to law school admission boards.

5 steps on how to develop relationships with professors

Below is a step by step process on how to develop relationships with professors. Note, there can be variety in how these steps are performed. However, every step should be done for best results (when it comes time to apply for law school).

Step 1: Go to your TA’s office hours

Why would I recommend you attend your TA’s office hours first?

First, TA’s interact often with professors. People like to gossip. Depending on the TA, they may talk with the professor about problem students, or discuss those who excel in the class. Professors may recall what TAs have said if you ever apply to work for the professor.

Second, attending TA office hours will help you perform well in your assignments and tests. Receiving good grades not only strengthens your GPA, the hard work stands out to professors.

Step 2: Go to your professor’s office hours

During my undergrad, professors often said how they would be bored during their office hours because nobody would show up. Imagine the relationship you can develop if you consistently attend the professors office hours.

I do have a word of caution, make sure you go to office hours with a purpose. You would feel pretty awkward if you showed up to develop a relationship, but had nothing to talk about when the professor asked you why you were there. Arrive with a question about the latest reading, or share something you learned from research you conducted outside of class. Although you can ask for insights on assignments, I would leave those questions for the TA. The TA is there specifically to answer assignment questions and could possibly be more helpful.

Step 3: Work as a TA or RA for the professor

If you have performed well in the professors class, you might want to consider becoming a TA for that professor. Your hard work in the class, as well as your frequent attendance in TA and professor office hours, would help greatly in obtaining a job.

Working closely with a professor as a TA or RA puts you in a valuable position. You are now developing a positive work relationship with the professor. Leaving a work relationship with a positive impression will be essential for future LORs.

Step 4: Work Hard

In my experience, professors most value the traits of hard work and organization. Showing consistency in your work ethic will set you apart from other TAs the professor has worked with. Also, consistently showing you care about the professors work (and your work) will show that you value the professor and their field.

When you begin applying for law school, the professor should have plenty of examples of hard work that they can include in their LORs.

Step 5: Repeat with 3-4 professors

Developing 3-4 professors sounds like a lot of work, and it is. However, this step is based on the principle “better safe than sorry”. Sometimes relationships don’t work out. You may leave on bad terms, or there wasn’t a strong connection. Most law schools require 2 LORs from professors. If a relationship or two falls flat but you still have a couple really strong connections, you will still be able to put forth a strong law school application. Aiming to have more relationships will always benefit you in the long run.


Once again, here are the 5 steps on how to improve relationships with professors.

  1. Go to your TA’s office hours to ensure you perform well on your assignments and tests
  2. Go to your professor’s office during hours with purpose. Make sure you have something to discuss, such as a question on a reading.
  3. If you perform well in their class and enjoy the professor, become a TA or RA so you are working closely with the professor.
  4. Work hard
  5. Repeat with 3-4 professors

I did alright during my undergrad, but I rushed everything. I got my grades and got out of school quickly. However, I wish I slowed down enough to develop stronger relationships with professors. The above is really a list of things I am constantly trying to be better with and hope that sharing it will increase your chances for success.

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