How to get on your GSI’s good side

GSI Union meeting in Boalt school of law to discuss matters such as the legitimacy of candidates and elections following the Union elections.
Amir Moghtaderi/File
GSI Union meeting in Boalt school of law to discuss matters such as the legitimacy of candidates and elections following the Union elections.

Getting your graduate student instructor, or GSI, to like you is more important than many people realize. These are the people who will be grading your problem sets, papers and midterms. Some GSIs have even been known to drop hints about tests to students. In a school where everyone is looking to gain an advantage, getting on your GSI’s good side could be a valuable resource. But becoming friends with your GSI is not as easy as it may seem. Luckily, we at the Clog have determined that all GSIs are the same, and we’ve devised a few foolproof approaches to befriending them.

1. Avoid eye contact at all costs. GSIs consider it a sign of disrespect to make eye contact. As an undergraduate, you should either be staring at your shoes, your phone or your notes. Meeting a GSI’s gaze will only result in lower quiz scores.

2. Ask them about your health concerns. GSIs have a wealth of knowledge and they’re eager to share that knowledge with you. If you have any questions about your health or well-being, asking your GSI instead of a doctor shows them that you recognize and appreciate their high level of education. Also, revealing those personal details about your life can help build a stronger and closer relationship.

3. Show up late to class. You don’t want to be just another face in the crowd that arrives on time. Arriving late ensures that your GSI will consistently notice you. If possible, enter through the front door instead of the back, or your GSI might not notice your tardiness. Extra points if you crawl through a window instead.

4. Arrive at office hours five minutes before it ends with a question that takes an hour to answer. GSIs love hosting office hours. They’ll jump at any opportunity to prolong them, and if you provide that opportunity, you’ll be getting midterm hints left and right.

5. GSIs all have one secret passion — bird watching. You should discuss bird watching at great length. They could talk for hours about bird watching, even when it seems like they have little to no interest in the conversation. So research some local birds, practice your bird calls and break out your binoculars. Nothing brings people together like a shared passion.

Utilize these tips and you’ll be on your GSI’s good side in no time. Better quiz and homework scores will surely follow. Not to mention, you’ll probably learn a lot about birds.

Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].

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