Connecting with faculty is one of the best parts of being a Stanford student! Your professors, and their colleagues, are interesting people who do fascinating and important work, and getting to know them is a great way to engage with our intellectual community.
Get to know your instructors by attending office hours, which are usually promoted on the course syllabus. If you go early in the quarter or between assignments, the traffic is likely to be lighter. Ask questions: how did you become interested in this field? What other possibilities did you study when you were in school? What do you think is the most interesting problem or challenge in the field today? What is your favorite part of your teaching or research? What do you wish you’d known when you were an undergrad? If I want to learn more, what are some readings you would recommend?
Stanford faculty often give talks on their current research, or commenting on contemporary events in the field. These open talks are advertised on department mailing lists or on flyers posted around campus. If you see something that interests you…go! As an engaged audience member, you can ask questions or approach the speaker after the lecture to follow up. If you are really interested, ask if that professor has office hours that you can attend in order to continue the conversation.
Remember to cultivate your connection by following up and keeping in touch!