College survival tips: Keep in touch over the summer with friends, professors and TAs

Mailing letters

Mailing letters (© Damian Dovarganes/AP Images)

Keeping in touch with friends over the summer can make for an easier transition back into classes come fall. Although technology has made that task easier than ever, it does still require a bit of effort on your part. But, reaching out to your friends is totally worth it in the end. Those in the know will also offer these key college survival tips: maintain contact with your professors during and after college.

Stay connected with friends

Keeping in touch over the summer is as easy as sending a text. Of course, while getting texts from your far-flung college buds is great, it’s not the same as seeing them. Use these ways to make sure you and your friends stay connected when you are more than a dorm room away from each other. It’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Did you say road trip? Whether you and your bestie decide to stay at each other’s home or meet somewhere in the middle, nothing beats a face-to-face to remind you why you’re so close in the first place.
  2. Explore technology. If funds don’t allow for a road trip, then make use of your computer to stay in touch. Facebook is the most ubiquitous way to keep in touch during the summer months. But, you’re a college student, so use that noodle! There’s also Skype or Google Plus Hangout, which give you an on-screen way to catch up. And, of course, there’s the, almost quaint, email.
  3. Goin’ postal? Try throwing your old mail carrier a bone and mail an actual card or letter. It may not be as easy for you as writing an email, but everyone loves getting mail, and your friends will appreciate the effort.

Building a network now for your future

But, what about your professors and teaching assistants? Should you keep in touch over the summer with them? Yes, a thousand times, yes! Maintaining a relationship with your professors after you’re no longer in their class can be extremely beneficial as you pursue your career and other educational opportunities.

Friending professors on Facebook

That’s not to say that you need to try and become best pals. In fact, in this College Candy post by CCandyJessica, “’LOL’ Is Not A Grade (And We’re Not Facebook Friends, Either),” the student writer freaked out when she received a Facebook friend request from her professor. “Professors and their current students should not be Facebook friends,” said Jessica. “Not only does it break down the fourth wall, it seriously messes up the dynamic of the student-teacher relationship. Facebook and MySpace are web sites I will post ramblings about my day and pictures from my weekend–things that have no relation to my class or relevance to my professor.”

The appropriate way to keep in contact with academic professionals

Treat contact with your professor or TA as professional—you may need them as a reference somewhere down the road. Reach out on LinkedIn; Facebook, not so much. “I’m all for forming personal relationships with professors in an academic setting–for guidance and those glowing recommendation letters,” said Jessica. “But if I add my professor on Facebook, I run the risk of opening a door that should be locked forever (or at least the rest of the semester!).”

  1. Build bridges early. In “How Office Hours Can Help Your Career,” which posted on the Daily Muse on July 29, 2011, JuJu Kim suggested building a relationship when you first start a professor’s class, either through office hours or via email where you can ask for advice about coursework. Once you make that initial contact, keep in touch throughout the year as well as over the summer and after graduation. Instructors can help with job searching, writing letters of recommendation and networking
  2. Get it on paper. Sure, you plan to maintain contact with your favorite professor as you begin your post-college job search, but things get in the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation from them before you graduate. Jenn Sheehan wrote about this on April 11, 2012 in “The Graduation Checklist” for the Grad Guard blog, recommending that current students ask professors to “draft a letter of recommendation for you while your abilities as a student are fresh in their minds.”

Even with all of today’s technology, saying goodbye in May for three months can be a bit disconcerting. Skirt any college-friend withdrawal by making concrete plans before you leave to stay connected, and then follow up frequently. As far as your professors, be sure to reach out to them at least once over the break so you stay at the top of their minds for any internships or assistantships that may be on the horizon. Maintaining relationships with your friends and professors makes for a great four years and offers career opportunities and friendships beyond. These college survival tips can ensure a truly fantastic summer vacation!

1 reply
  1. VANESSA HARRIS
    VANESSA HARRIS says:

    Thanks for the tips, I’ll make sure to follow them, bacause it very important to stay connected to those who have helped you. They can always provide you with much neded imformation.

    Reply

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