Forging mentoring relationships with professors in your field is perhaps one of the best things you can do for yourself personally, professionally, and academically. On the most obvious and important level, they can teach you a myriad of information about your field: basic factual knowledge, theoretical underpinnings, hot topics, research methods, professional etiquette, etc., etc., etc. If you're not working closely with one or two professors you're missing out. Considering working in faculty member's lab, collaborating closely with them to research and revise papers, or just taking multiple classes with a professor whose interests match your own to get the most out of your college experience.
Faculty contacts prove helpful on a secondary level as well: applying for scholarships, fellowships, jobs, and internships. Faculty will know what universities have masters and doctoral programs that fit your interest. They tend to be aware of scholarship and job opportunities in their field, and are often willing to pass that information on to students they mentor.
Professors can furthermore help you with the actual application process. They will likely be willing to help you edit essays, write recommendations, practice for interviews, and explain standard professional etiquette and conduct. And the better a professor knows you, the better he or she will be able to write you a recommendation letter that is detailed, insightful, and revealing.
If you're not sure what your professors' interests are -- or who the heck on campus does whatever it is that interests you -- check out the Honors Program Mentors Directory. It contains a list of faculty members, their academic interests, and what types of projects they are interested in working on with students.
- Tips on asking for faculty recommendations
- Faculty with experience in the British University system (for Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, Fulbright, and other scholarships involving UK study).