Why Go to Office Hours?
It's a great way to get personalized help in the course from the professor. But that's not all — office hours also offer a great way to get to know your professor better, and for them to get to know you better. Also, engaging during office hours demonstrates commitment and interest.
- If your professor has scheduled office hours in the syllabus, put the time and location on your calendar.
- If you have a conflict with scheduled office hours, email your professor to ask to meet at another time.
- Some professors say you can schedule office hours by appointment, or ask you to sign up for a time slot. If so, put a note in your calendar at the end of each week to evaluate whether you should meet with your professor in the next week.
- Always come with a question or topic to discuss. Here are some ideas:
- Come with specific questions about concepts you are struggling with — professors can explain them in alternate ways.
- Start the homework before office hours, and then come with questions on places you are stuck or want to understand better.
- Float ideas about long-term assignments (i.e., lab reports, creative projects, etc.).
- Ask for feedback about your performance in specific assignments, exams, and/or labs, and for advice on how to learn the course material effectively.
- Ask about your overall interest in the discipline.
- Ask about the professor's research.
- Academic advising for planning out majors and minors.
- Advice for summer research or job opportunities.
When there are other students at office hours, try not to compare yourself to them, except to learn specific ways of being an effective student. Watch for specific approaches that other students take to asking questions, doing work, or collaborating that seems effective and feasible to you, and emulate them. Focus on your own progress and goals for the class, not how others are doing.
For some courses, professors also hold optional extra class meetings, called "recitations" or "problem sessions." In other courses, faculty-led problem sessions are required — make sure you know the expectations of each of your classes. Engage with these as well!