Is it commonly considered very inappropriate to develop a close friendship or relationship with a professor if you're a senior in college? If you spend a lot of time at your professor's house, does it matter whether your relationship is platonic or not?

I don't want to get myself or my professor in trouble, but I also think it's ridiculous that we will be judged for being friends. Does anybody have any advice or first hand experience?


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Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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It is ok to be friendly with your professor. However, your professor is putting you in a bad position if you are going to this prof's house by yourself. Things are a little different in grad school, but in the world of undergrads, you should not be put into a position that could compromise your reputation as a student (and that prof is making poor choices about their career). If you are a senior, save the house visits for after graduation. For now, public spaces should be your meeting point.

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Right or wrong, perception is everything and in this case, I would have to say, “Yes,” it seems inappropriate. It doesn’t matter if your friendship or relationship is only platonic. What will be judged are the actions of you and your professor. Spending a lot of time at the professor’s house will not be viewed favorably, especially if you are currently in or have previously been a student in one of the professor’s classes.

I agree with Amanda in that a better place to meet would be in the professor’s office with the door open. However, I would take that a step further and suggest that all meetings should take place in an open place ON and not off campus.

Amanda Morris, College Professor, Writer, Advisor, Writing Coach

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Yes. The short answer is yes. Every situation is different, but on the surface, the scenario you describe could easily be considered inappropriate. If you truly value your friendship with the professor, a better choice would be to meet in his or her office with the door open to have conversations, or maybe a local coffee shop. This protects both of you from any perception of impropriety.

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