All first-year students at Tufts are assigned a pre-major advisor when they matriculate. As the name – PRE-major advisor – suggests, these advisors cater to preliminary academic guidance. However, as students progress to declaring their specific majors, they are tasked with seeking out professors in their academic interests who will serve as their major advisors.
While the communication process may vary across departments, majors, and individual professors, the process of reaching out to professors who you think could be your advisors remains consistent. Understandably, the idea of reaching out to professors can be scary at first, and I’ve definitely been there as well. So here’s a few steps you can take to navigate this process smoothly!
Before reaching out to a professor, delve into their research, publications, and teaching style. Understanding their areas of expertise will not only demonstrate your genuine interest but also help you tailor your message to resonate with them. It is extra nice to have taken their courses before or be currently enrolled in one. Remember to make use of their office hours to engage in discussions about course concepts and initiate a conversation about the possibility of establishing an advisor-student relationship.
Draft a personalized email that introduces yourself, highlights your passion for the major, and explains why you believe their guidance is invaluable. Some professors have a lot of students they are advising during certain semesters. Be sure to convey your commitment to the major and your willingness for intellectual curiosity. Professors want to invest their time in students who are dedicated and enthusiastic.
Ask them if they have office hour openings in the coming weeks so you can also introduce yourself in person and build the connection. Respect their busy schedule by offering flexibility and indicating your willingness to work around their availability.
Once you find a time that works, prepare a list of questions or topics you'd like to discuss. Whether it's about course selection, research opportunities, or long-term career goals, showing that you've thought deeply about your major and its potential paths will help you connect better with your potential advisor.
After the meeting, send a thank-you email to express your appreciation for their time and insights. This not only demonstrates your gratitude but also reinforces your genuine interest in their guidance. Lastly, don’t forget that this follow-up can continue even after they agree to be your advisor. Keep your professor updated on your academic progress, achievements, and any challenges you encounter. Regular updates showcase your growth and allow them to provide continuous support and guidance.
Remember, professors genuinely want to see their students succeed. Reaching out for major advising not only helps cultivate meaningful connections, but also offers an opportunity to tap into the wisdom of field experts, who are not only knowledgeable about your academic pursuits but can also provide valuable guidance for various life matters. Remember, they were once undergraduate students themselves. So, take the initiative and be confident!