[box]Pros and cons of friending professors on Facebook[/box]
We are far from the days when talking with professors outside of the classroom meant awkwardly running into them at the grocery store — after trying to avoid them.
Nowadays with the advent of social media websites such as Facebook, a student can interact with professors on his or her own terms.
But is it appropriate for a student to extend a virtual invitation to their collegiate mentors on Facebook?
Having an extra method of communication to contact current professors or stay in touch with past ones is definitely a positive platform.
Now, I’m not saying to go all “Match.com” and like every photo and status a professor posts (those feelings should remain deep inside of you).
I just believe that a student’s willingness to friend a teacher on Facebook probably stems from a great relationship in the classroom and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be able to contact them outside of campus.
However, don’t go Googling a professor to get their first name to make searching them on Facebook easier just yet.
There are things to consider before taking that leap, and, frankly, Googling a professor is just plain creepy.
What differentiates being friends with college professors and high school teachers on Facebook is that college professors can be a student’s direct connection to various careers.
“If you have something on your Facebook you wouldn’t want future employers to see, you probably shouldn’t be friends with your professors because they’re the ones who can help you get a career,” anthropology and geography junior Lauren Swanson said. “They don’t need to know what you do on the weekends.”
Professors are representing themselves when they help connect students to established individuals, but they may not want to do so if a student has explicit photos or statuses on their profile.
When a professor accepts a friend request from a student, it means the professor likes the student enough to tolerate him or her being in their life from that point forward, and students should be careful to not cross any boundaries.
A helpful tip for students wanting to be Facebook friends with professors is to add them to a group and block them from albums deemed unsuitable for their eyes, just like people do with their parents and other family members.
“I think that it is fine for students to be Facebook friends with their professors, but in doing so, they should think about what they post on Facebook and keep it somewhat tame and professional,” graphic communication senior Shannon Whitehill said. “You don’t want to ruin the professional student-teacher relationship that could one day result in job offers or recommendations.”
If students are too lazy to make inappropriate content private and hidden from professors, then they should take into consideration using professional networking websites such as LinkedIn which can help keep the relationship strictly related to educational and career goals.
After all, professors most likely have a Facebook profile for leisure purposes like everyone else and don’t want to be bombarded with academic questions and comments from students.
Business administration senior Mackenzie Stack believes Facebook presents a more relaxed and uninhibited version of one’s self, whereas something such as LinkedIn presents a more formal and businesslike version.
“An important question to ask is, ‘What is the purpose of being connected via Facebook versus via LinkedIn?’” she said. “Do you want to see where your professor is eating dinner or what movie they just saw, or do you want your professor to see what a crazy time you had last Friday night?”
If a professor does not feel comfortable with being Facebook friends after seeing pictures of their student passed out for reasons other than staying up and studying late, then they can always deny the request or delete them.
Students shouldn’t take it personally, and hopefully shameful stares won’t befall upon them in the classroom from that point forward.