Illustration Credit: Arba Bardhi
A 10-step guide to finding a new best friend in your prof
Tannaaz Zaraineh, Features Editor
“It’s all part of the plot.”
Those are words you should say to yourself when you wonder what it would be like to have a genuine friendship with someone on campus. Specifically, when you wish to be friends — nay, best friends — with your favourite professor.
I think we’d all be lying if we said we’ve never thought about what it would be like to stay after class and discover you have so much in common with your favourite prof. Although tricky exams and that not-so-nice discussion post grade may make it seem like they are out to get you during your somewhat flourishing academic career, what if it was never about the credit or degree, and instead it was leading to true friendship? After all, what do professors do when they’re not proving theorems, studying cell cultures, and reading classic literature?
Perhaps you’ll find yourself in line for the pink food truck and complaining to them about how they don’t get enough funding for the lab. Like Top Gun: Maverick’s infamous montage, your blossoming friendship might find itself playing football at the back campus field. Or, imagine braiding matching BFF bracelets for each other in the student lounge. How about taking that cottage trip you have been planning for months? When they go across the world for research, they’d take you along because they know you’re obsessed with the culture. And when you get married, well of course your BFF will be part of the wedding party! Maid of Honour/Best Man, anyone??? Even if you don’t have such wild dreams, there’s nothing wrong with having a friend for only as long as you attend school. Casual friendships are totally doable!
Everyone needs a friend. And maybe your prof is destined to be your next BFF. My guide exists to discuss ways you can culminate this, with detailed examples free of charge!
***(Huge Disclaimer: Don’t actually do these, you will get in trouble. I am not promoting stalker behavior teehee).
If I were a professor, my number one tip for getting on my good side would be to buy me gifts. Sure, you could play it safe and give me a nice pen or a Starbucks gift card. But if you want to find real friendship, you must take a different approach. Go big or go home.
Examples include: an antique typewriter from 1882, a year-long membership to the Wellcome Collection in London, or buying the Starbucks store near my office so I always get free morning coffee. These aren’t showy examples, they show effort and thought. Getting them a sports car, like David Dobrik, is an idea for pleb celebrities who aren’t creative enough.
2. ASK QUESTIONS!
Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? I know I do from time to time! And friendships rely on people getting to know each other. After class, before class, and even during: ask questions. It’s important to make it clear that you’re trying to get to know them outside of academics, so ask the important questions! You can start with simple questions such as, “Did you see that new art exhibition?” or “Who are you voting for?” Or stick to class-friendly ideas like, “What’s your favourite font for powerpoints?” If the conversation starts to feel more buddy-buddy, you could try asking a personal question such as, “What’s your favourite colour?” or maybe “If you could have any superpower what would you choose?” These questions will practically ensure you’ll get to know your prof on a deeper level. You can even push things along by asking yourself questions and answering on the spot. The question offers context instead of just blurting out random stuff. For example, you’d ask, “What’s (your name)’s favourite colour? Blue!” It’s attention grabbing, especially if it’s mid-lecture. Your prof will appreciate the initiative!
3. DRESS UP!
If you want to be friends with someone, copying them helps. It’s the most sincere form of flattery! You do this when you have no originality and are experiencing an identity crisis. To add, mirroring is said to be body language that connects people together. Mirror what they wear to lectures. Wear that sweater vest, or a similar coloured shirt that goes with nothing else in your closet because you’re that dedicated. Fashion crimes do not exist in this realm.
However, if that doesn’t work, or if you’re not experiencing an identity crisis, make sure you dress up. Having a nice style goes a long way. Wear your most expensive dress or suit as you will be dressing to impress. Wear heels. I cannot stress this enough. They force you to stand up straight and therefore look more confident. Just make sure you can walk in them and aren’t running late. Falling flat on your face is not going to dazzle anyone. If you don’t own heels, wear expensive sneakers that you know you will go into debt for. Sometimes friendship comes with a price.
4. MUSIC RECOMMENDATIONS!
I’ve had profs who have asked the class for music suggestions so that a group playlist could be made, and later played before class started. I suggest you turn the tables and let them know what you’re listening to by just playing it for them out loud. Everyday, walk into class (late) and hold a speaker above your head like the movies for a dramatic entrance. Your prof is essentially forced to listen to what you’re listening to. They should appreciate how you’re not gatekeeping your impeccable music taste from them and the rest of the class. Plus, everyone knows one of the best ways to bond with a new friend is by listening to and talking about your favourite musicians.
This means you should eventually try to align your music taste with your prof’s and use the mirroring technique from tip #3. The way to go about this is just assuming. If your professor smiles when you play it, that means you have great estimation skills! If they frown and ask you to leave, listen to them. The following week, you enter with something new. This is a great way to show them you’re using critical thinking skills. Try some powerful rap like Playboi Carti or Drake to start. Not the vibe? Maybe they’re a Swiftie. Or, it’s something more particular like psychedelic jazz. If it’s something you never listen to, nobody cares. You’ll learn to like it.
Also, if you want potential bonus marks, create a presentation that shares why you chose to share the song using properly referenced images and cool slide transitions. I know I would give you bonus marks for that.
5. OFFER YOUR TABLE TO THEM!
If you happen to run into a professor on campus, offer to share your table. This works best when the location is busy. I actually had this happen to me at Starbucks while writing this article (no joke). But do not talk to the prof and let them enjoy their coffee and muffin. If you see them later, reveal yourself as the kind stranger that shared your table and leave. Mysterious interactions offer your prof to wonder who you are. You’ll feel like a good samaritan and part of the U of T community, while also making your prof think the same.
6. OFFER TO PRESENT THEIR LECTURES!
To expand on being a good person, if your professor is emailing the class to say they are sick or can’t make it to lecture, email them back. Let them know that you have read every single textbook chapter in advance and have already solved everything (because you have). You want to be there for your new friend. Offer to teach the class in their absence because you don’t want them to stress and have your classmates feel like they will be behind. This tip is extra effective if paired with tip #4 – wearing your prof-inspired outfit while you lecture might make the students more comfortable too. If your professor friend wants to record a lecture, tell them you will do it instead. Why should they put themselves under pressure? You should lighten their load by offering your services! That’s what a true friend would do.
7. GO TO OFFICE HOURS!
This is probably the most practical idea. Professors already ask students to come during office hours to ask questions, so use that time to get to know each other! Don’t ask weird questions, but if you saw a funny meme and you need to show more people because it’s just that funny, show your professor. It will show your sense of humour and maybe you’ll share a laugh!
8. PARTICIPATE LIKE A PRO!
Participation matters in some courses. If you want an A and you want to impress your prof, you must participate. First, start by answering questions. Make sure most of them are correct answers. This way your prof is conditioned into thinking you’re smart and reliable when nobody else wants to answer, and you’d be a reliable friend as covered in tip #6. Obviously you sometimes have to answer them wrong too. If you don’t, you’ll be considered a robot or a cheater and your classmates and prof won’t appreciate someone who doesn’t take their education seriously. Similar to the idea of knowing the material beforehand, you have to make sure you’ve read the textbook front and back multiple times and memorized all concepts. If you can contact someone who has taken the class before, get their notes for ample competency. Then, when your prof is presenting a new concept to the class, you can finish their sentences. People sometimes think it’s annoying because you’re interrupting, but let’s be honest, they’re just secretly jealous because you’re such an academic weapon. What if they wanted to do the same but you beat them to it? So, don’t worry about coming off as pretentious. Your prof will appreciate how studious you are. Guaranteed.
If you want to take it further to keep things lighthearted and totally groovy, interrupt by saying, “fun fact” and follow with a fact about the concept being presented. Everyone will be wowed by your expert knowledge. Your prof won’t wonder why you’re trying to teach concepts they already know. They may instead suggest you join them on their research trips without having to bother applying. Lucky you!
Bragging is actually a great way to find like-minded people. For example, if you say to a bunch of students that you have a 4.0 GPA, those who have lower will be intimidated and leave, but those who are also at the same level will start to brag too, and you will find some new friends. Telling your prof the same thing is impressive, but you have to go bigger than just perfect grades. Also, don’t be afraid to bend the truth a little. While talking to your prof about your research interests, slip a humble brag such as, “Yeah, my dad works in Mexico City, so he was able to snag me an internship to help with an archaeological dig at a site nearby, but it’s all thanks to my 4.0.” Your prof, who might be teaching something about that subject, will be so interested and will most likely ask questions. You may have to add some lies in between to keep things going, and it might be beneficial to have some photoshopped images on hand if you really need to sell your white lie. It’s important to make sure to follow up by letting your prof know the internship was cancelled for some reason out of your control, and definitely not because you didn’t actually have any connections (or stellar grades). The point of bragging is not only to impress, but to exert your prestige over any other students vying for attention.
10. FINALLY…Just let them know uwu
I know I gave some really good tips above, but often the easiest way to make a new friend is to be true to yourself. Some people I’ve met were through fate itself, but since I wanted a genuine connection I tried my best to be kind, funny, and persistent in my efforts. If you believe one day you will be absolute besties with someone, just go up to your prof after class and let them know you are interested in being friends. Like all friendships, the response could go either way, but you were yourself in the end. If your professor questions your motives and says no, don’t take it personally. Rejection sucks, but you can take it as experience, assess where you went wrong and go find a new professor. You have four years for a reason!
I hope you were able to find a few good tips through these steps. My goal was to provide a way to create genuine connections between people. Oftentimes there seems to be a disconnect between profs and students. Students feel pressure to always sign off emails with “Best Regards” instead of “Hope you absolutely slay your next lecture <3. ” And profs sometimes take their careers too seriously and may not even think about their social lives. Perhaps with this guide, there can be a bridge built to help those who feel lost. If U of T is truly #1, then our social lives shouldn’t be impacted by our academic pursuits.
Hope you absolutely slay your next friendship,