As a Duke student, you have access to hundreds of expert intellectuals, researchers, artists, analysts, writers, and more. 

Nurturing relationships with faculty can play a key role in your success in many ways at Duke and beyond. You might not have been explicitly told this, but you are really EXPECTED to cultivate relationships with faculty. 

We recommend that you try to develop relationships with MULTIPLE faculty and adults around campus as they will be a team of trusted advisors you can think of as your own personal “board of directors.”  

This team of advisors can help you succeed at Duke and beyond in several key areas: 

Improved Academics 

  • It is easier to speak up if you have questions during and outside of class when you feel comfortable with the professor.   
  • By discussing course material with faculty, you can deepen your knowledge and build your confidence as a learner and scholar.  
  • When faculty know more about your interests, they can tailor the information they give you and offer more specific feedback. 
  • Professors may be more likely to provide extra support more willingly if you have shown that you are a genuinely interested and motivated student. 
  • You are more likely to enjoy your semester and the class. 


  • As faculty come to know your work, they are more likely to remember you when opportunities (I.e., conferences, scholarships, internships, research) arise and serve as a reference. 
  • Conversations with faculty can reveal possible career paths and action steps. 
  • You can develop long-term relationships with trusted mentors who can provide guidance and insight after you graduate.  


  • Faculty are not only experts in their specific areas of interest but are also respected professionals in the field. As you cultivate relationships with faculty, they will be in a better position to introduce you to someone in their network or to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise know about.  


  • The more detailed and personal a letter is about your interests and abilities, the more likely it is to make a strong impression on its readers. Instructors who have the most extensive, personal knowledge of you and your work are the preferred people for you to ask to be a recommender.