Can my professors help me get into graduate school?
How can I develop relationships with professors that will lead to research opportunities and strong letters of recommendation for graduate school? Can I realistically ask my professor for his or her help with a personal research project?
A BYU Student
Meaningful research is a long-term, disciplined process. I suggest you find one topic that interests you and plan on spending significant time (6-10 hours a week for several semesters and possibly full time in the summer) to master it. This level of effort is much more likely to produce a meaningful contribution that will lead to a great relationship and a spectacular recommendation letter/entrée to graduate school than a short-term interaction can. If your schedule allows such a commitment, I suggest you (1) do enough research to know who on the faculty is interested in the same question you are and what is already known about it, and (2) go to that faculty member with a specific proposal.
Dr. Larry Baxter
Yes, of course you have the right to ask the professor or instructor for help in research assignments associated with the class, but you should be aware of certain constraints which may limit the interaction, such as class size, requirements for the assignment, and so forth. As for how to go about asking for help, since most instructors have penciled in student consultation time, or “office hours,” this would be the ideal place to start. Emailing prior to setting up a specific block of time is also recommended.
Dr. Dan Belnap