The Wonderful Act of Grabbing a Coffee with Your Professor

Top-down photo of two coffee mugs on saucers, placed on a worn wood block surrounded by leaves. The coffee has a pattern made in the foam.
Two cups of coffee waiting for you and your professor

Princeton is a wonderful place. Among all the elements that make this university great, in my opinion, two stand out: the students and the professors. Students come from different backgrounds, with all sorts of fabulous experiences. And, in departments across campus, we have so many valuable professors – who are world-renowned in their respective fields – that make this place so amazing. 

But, there sometimes tends to be a divide between these two important elements. In my encounters with my peers, I have often noticed that undergraduates find professors “intimidating” to reach. One of my friends even told me once that “I think my professor’s time is too valuable to be wasted on me.” 

As a first-year student, I found the work of the professors in all of my classes very fascinating. But I was perhaps too shy to reach out to them to learn more about their work. What changed the game for me was that my residential college, Rocky, had organized a “Take your professor to dinner” night. Since it was a structured program planned by the college, it made it much easier for me to invite a professor for dinner. And I did. I invited my chemistry professor, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made at Princeton so far. In fact, to this day, he is still an amazing mentor for me. 

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How to Cancel on Someone, the Right Way

Earlier this winter, I received an email inviting me to a day’s worth of interviews for an MD/PhD program. This invitation included a schedule with Zoom meetings that extended much later into the day than I expected. As a result, these meetings conflicted with some of my classes as well as a meeting for an extracurricular activity.

We’ve all been there: something comes up and we can no longer make it to a class or meeting on our calendars. Whatever the reason, there’s a special kind of stress that comes with realizing you’ll need to cancel on someone. When will you have a chance to make this up? Will your colleagues and professors be upset with you?

I’ve also been on the other side of the equation: as a supervisor for Murray-Dodge Café, I’ve received my fair share of emails from students needing to miss a shift or a meeting. While the best way to handle these situations is to avoid them altogether, that isn’t always possible, so in this article, I’ll share some of my tips for handling these sticky situations!

Displaying a secondary time zone on my Google Calendar really helped me stay on top of my interviews and course schedule!
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