Talk To Your Profs

Fridays around these parts are about me dispensing gyaan to students about careers, skillsets and what not. Today’s post is in similar vein, but about a topic that I honestly never thought I would have to write about. It’s about encouraging students to talk to professors more.

What little I personally know of economics I didn’t really learn in classrooms. I learnt about it by talking and arguing with friends (which still happens, thank god), by reading as many books as I could lay my grubby paws on, and through conversations with (some of) my professors. And I’m pleased as punch to report that the first and the third group now have some intersectionality.

Students are finally back on campus, thank god. Not all of them, unfortunately, but hopefully this semester will be the last semester where we have this weird halfway world. Now that students are back on campus though, there’s a bit of a disconnect.

Students who were on campus before the pandemic have a natural ease around them when conversing with me and other faculty members, or when it comes to dropping in to our offices for a chat over a cup of coffee. But with students who I and other faculty members have taught exclusively online, it’s painfully apparent to both parties that the ease is missing.

And today’s blogpost is based around this observation. To every student everywhere who is reading this, if there is a professor who you would like to engage in conversation, don’t wait! Please, go ahead and ask the professor if they could spare the time for a chat. Sure, they might ask you to drop by later if they’re busy, but most (if not all) professors will be only too happy to engage you in conversation.

And these offbeat, random conversations are the best way to learn, trust me. One-on-one conversations over a cup of coffee tend to be more relaxed, more in-depth and more reflective. Best of all, serendipitous projects have a way of falling in your lap while these conversations take place, and you’d be surprised at the kind of work that can come out of a simple conversation.

Books, movies, travel, good places to eat around college, politics, music – everything is fair game. Besides of course, whatever it is that you’re learning about these days, and let me be honest – the occasional dash of gossip. Even us economists are human under certain circumstances!

But if you ask me, it is this that defines the offline college experience. Classes, sure, but in person relaxed conversations is where the real magic happens. Both in college and later.

So if you are on campus, and haven’t yet mustered up the courage to knock on a prof’s door and ask if you could just come in to chat, give it a try.

I’ll keep the kettle handy.