Students blog

Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • A professor engages with class members while standing in front of a chalk board.

    More Than a Face: Building Academic Relationships with Professors

    Princess Robinson

    I grew up hearing that college would be filled with academic rigor. I often heard the phrase, “professors have so many students and classes that they won’t remember you or your name”. This is a myth and does not have to be true. Professors remember those with whom they often interact. The key is communication. It is imperative to properly communicate with your professors as it will help you achieve success, learn, and is an easy way to network.

    Reaching Out via Email

    Reaching out to your professors will help you to achieve academic and professional success. It is one of the first steps in which students learn professionalism because one should know how to talk to professors. Communicating via email is a key component of this.

    Start with a concise subject line. Include the topic, your name, and the class/section you are in. Also, you should properly address a professor according to their title. If a professor has a PhD, address them by Dr. (Last name). If not, Professor (Last Name) should be fine. Make sure your student credentials are in your email signatures.

    Below is an example of an email for students who may need tutoring (especially for professors’ whose office hours are by appointment):

    Subject: Office Hour request from (student name) Class: (Course number and section)

    Hello, Dr. Smith,

    My name is (name) and I am a student in your (Course number, Section number) class. I am sending this email to request a time to ask questions regarding (insert topic area). The following are times of my availability: (list a few days and times). Please let me know if any of those times work or do not work with your schedule.

    Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

    Best regards,
    Student’s First name, Last name
    Student’s email

    Timeliness is Important

    The key to communicating with your professors is timeliness. Sending crisis emails will be of minimal effect. Not every professor will be responsive or direct you to someone or a resource that may help. In fact, you may have to send follow-up emails, in a respectful manner, when no response is received. However, what matters most is taking the first step to achieve academic success.

    You can also communicate with your professor prior to the start of the class date, especially for advocacy purposes. As a student with a disability, I attribute most of my academic success to self-advocacy that takes place before the semester begins. Below is an email template that I use and would recommend any student with a disability to send prior to the start of the semester (at least two weeks before the first day of class):

    Subject: Virtual Meeting request and Accommodations from (student name)

    Hello Dr. Smith,

    My name is (insert name). I am emailing you to communicate my accommodations that would allow me to receive an equitable opportunity to learn and succeed in your class. I am a (optional; list impairment or disability) student. Attached are my SAR (Student access and Resource Center) approved course accommodations for your class. I would also like to inquire about your availability (before class starts) so that we may set up a meeting, virtually or in person, to discuss my accommodation at your earliest convenience. Although accommodations are formally sent one week prior to the start of class, you can request the formal letter earlier so that you can have it during our meeting. I look forward to having you as a professor for (enter course name and section number). Attached are my accommodations (screenshot accommodations).

    Best regards,
    Student’s First name, Last name
    Student’s email

    Personal Learning Opportunities

    Communicating with professors will help you learn. Attending a professors’ office hours may provide personalized learning opportunities. Ask real questions, such as, “I understand that…., but how does…. relate to…?” or “I was thinking… however, this isn’t matching up. Could you steer me in the right direction?” This will allow the professor to become knowledgeable on your learning style or area to improve. Another valuable thing that I have gained from getting to know professors is receiving life lessons. Sometimes we as students are so concerned with our grades that we forget that professors are humans as well. Showing curiosity of their success stories will allow them to share insight in motivating students to not give up in the learning process.

    Nucleus of Networking

    Your professors are your first avenues to networking. I would not be where I am today without getting to know my professors. I spent the past two years of college in a select business leadership program that teaches students how to make a positive impact in the business executive world. I would not have had that opportunity if I did not say hello and initiate conversation with professors and deans at a university event. I asked for their cards. Within several months, I sent an email to meet with one of those professors, switched to a business major, and earned admission to the leadership academy that helped me make progress in the Honors College.

    Lastly, it isn’t difficult for a professor to provide a professional letter of recommendation for a student that they know. You may need to provide a letter of recommendation request outlining your goals, involvement, and achievements, but a professor that knows a student is more willing to devote time to their success.

    College is indeed tough, especially for first-generation students. However, it is not unattainable, especially if you make efforts to work now and play later. It is possible to be more than a face.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


  • A young man lies on his back outside on a concrete step. He is wearing headphones and using an app on his phone.

    A Language Learning Journey

    Princess Robinson

    “Ah-beh-se-cheh-de-eh-efe”, accompanied with a military tune, were the words of the alphabet song that my first high school Spanish teacher played every day. I will never forget it. While some view the language class requirements as a hassle, taking them seriously, especially in high school, changed my life. Indeed, learning multiple languages has benefits, including opportunities to cultivate meaningful relationships, improvement of your first language, and strengthening your memory.

    When a positive engagement or activity evokes feelings of joy and doesn’t seem burdensome, one is said to be passionate about something. Having the ability to speak multiple languages lights my countenance and confirms a part of my purpose. My first high school Spanish teacher was energetic, humorous, and patient. I attentively took notes as he paddled the desks of the drowsy students with a yard long ruler. While I was an average Spanish student, what allowed me to grow in it was repetition. I didn’t exceed the high school Spanish course requirement, but in the summer of my junior high school year, I began to look at my Spanish book and make Spanish vocabulary flash cards, ranging from colors to food. Grocery store runs became opportunities to practice what I had learned. Some people were astonished, celebratory of the bravery of learning a new language, and some were critical. In fact, many people have told me to just speak English. I keep in mind that learning languages is for everyone to learn, is not cultural appropriation, but is a desire for improved communication.

    Learning a second language can improve your first language and enhance memory. Prior to learning Spanish, I didn’t fully grasp the context of the English sentence structure. For example, Spanish taught me that the words for “to be”, “ser” and “estar”, are verbs. Studying a second language also requires a willingness to be disciplined and consistent in training the brain to adapt to different grammatical and sentence structures.

    It can be tricky to figure out the distinction of gender differences in grammatical structure for languages where there are grammatical differences in communicating with males and females. Saying “how are you?”, for instance, is structured differently in some languages because the pronouns you, him, her, and them represent gender in word differences in acknowledging a man or woman. When you begin to study a new language, your brain begins to adapt and you increase your ability to multitask.

    Learning new languages can cultivate priceless connections. As mentioned earlier, as I built my Spanish vocabulary, I implemented what I learned by practicing with people in shopping centers, school, and even church.

    Apps are a primary way to learn languages. In addition to Spanish, I am learning Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Hindi with Pearson’s very own app – Mondly by Pearson, included free when you use Pearson+!

    I’d love to see language learning apps incorporate live instructors from different countries that are willing and able to give personalized lessons. Recently Mondly by Pearson added new options to practice real-life conversations and chat with a personalized virtual language teacher with Mondly VR and Mondly AR.

    Learning a new language takes dedication and discipline. Immerse yourself in YouTube videos in the desired language, use your language learning app on a regular basis, and seek out opportunities to converse with someone who speaks that language. Above all practice, practice, practice and you’ll begin to realize the results of your hard work!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • A graphic featuring the words ‘Writing is a Gift’ alongside a fountain pen. ‘Princess Anna’ appears on the second line.

    Writing is a Gift

    Princess Robinson

    When hearing the word “write”, what comes to mind? Is it a five-to-twenty-page academic essay or dissertation that leads one to dread or procrastination? Beyond academic aspects, writing is the gift of communication that is good for the health, proves or documents that events took place or feelings existed, and creates art. Writing is inevitable, so as college students it is necessary to develop this skill for career and life success.

    Writing In Any Form Improves Mental Health

    As college students, it’s easy to become stressed about a work-life balance, maintaining relationships, acquiring internships and career opportunities, and managing financial circumstances. When used effectively, writing is a remedy to alleviate levels of depression and anxiety by lowering cortisol (a hormone released from stress that can suppress the immune system at consistently elevated levels). Writing can help to bring your dreams and vision into focus. A tip for effective writing for mental health includes documenting positive moments or events that take place in your life and refer back to them for encouragement when experiencing rough circumstances.

    Writing Clarifies Goals

    Writing down goals or life plans can help you maintain discipline and confirm your capability to achieve success. A useful way to set goals is to form a timeline ranging from one to seven years and specify the extent of a goal as short-term or long-term. For example, a student desiring to become a counselor could set the short-term goal of passing all university psychology exams and graduating. Longer-term goals would be to pass a certification exam and attain all hours required to become a licensed counselor. The important aspect of writing for improved mental health is that it serves as a confirmation that conquered challenges bring success, and hardships won’t always last.

    Communication is Key

    The phrase, “if it isn’t written down it doesn’t matter”, highlights the importance of communicating or documenting circumstances or events in the workplace, educational institutions, or any legal matter. In a college students’ perspective, it is important to communicate with your professors, especially when there is a lack of understanding. For example, a student attends a class with approximately 150 students, and the professor is teaching a complex subject that is difficult to comprehend. Putting pride aside by sending an email to the professor explaining where the misunderstanding is, asking for an explanation, and seeking resources for knowledge is the first step in learning to communicate for success.

    Another example of the importance of writing can be seen in legal scenarios. When a victim of the sequences of unethical or criminal acts writes down the accumulation of the events (specifying dates from start to finish), the process to attain justice from legal or managerial authority is made clear, understandable, and easier. Becoming competent in writing skills is important for college students, as it will aid in self-advocacy, career success, and communication for clarification and causation.

    Writing As a Coping Skill Has the Potential to Create Art

    A thirteen-year-old girl was faced with the inevitable and hospitalized for several weeks as she processed her new life. She wrote inspirational and optimistic songs that prophesized the brighter, prosperous, and impactful future that she had desired. Singing was a habit that she had adopted at an earlier age, so it complemented her ability to write. Those songs have allowed her to step out of her comfort zone by sharing and encouraging others to not give up during life’s hardships.

    You may have guessed that the young woman mentioned above is me. Though writing is inevitable, it is also one of our greatest gifts. The ability to communicate is a skill that constantly must be refined and sharpened throughout one’s whole life. Perhaps you have to write a memo at work, an essay, or even notes in class or in a meeting. Beyond work and school, writing can be an artistic outlet that is used to reduce stress. No matter the type of writing you are doing, it is a gift in all its forms if we recognize it as such.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!