If you’re like I was at the start of my freshman year, the thought of spending some one-on-one time with your new professor and/or TA probably terrifies you… just a little bit. Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a final term senior, professors and graduate students not only seem to know the answers to everything, they also know if you accidentally fell asleep in class last week! I am here to tell you — you must overcome that fear! One of the most critical parts of a successful academic term is seeking assistance when needed and showing an interest in the subjects you’re taking.
This is where office hours come in. Office hours provide you and your instructors the opportunity to get to know one other outside of the classroom. They give you a chance to ask questions about the lecture, clarify something you didn’t understand, or go over questions you have on the homework. Some professors and TAs are even willing to review a draft of your essay or help review for an upcoming exam (just make sure to approach them early on). Seeking assistance during office hours shows that you are making an effort in the course, especially if you are struggling with the material. Getting a bad grade, despite hours of effort, can be extremely discouraging. The last thing many of us want to do is drop by office hours and face the person who gave us that grade–but this is actually the best thing you can do. Your instructors want you to succeed, and they don’t know why you got a poor grade. Was it because you didn’t study? Was it because you didn’t care? Or was it because you simply made a mistake or overlooked some key part of the exam or assignment on accident? Did you study harder instead of smarter? They can help you figure out where you went wrong, and how to better prepare for next time. Every course will have a different set of expectations and every professor has a different teaching style. Showing up at office hours and explaining that you had studied a lot yet somehow weren’t able to convey that on the exam or in the essay, shows your professors and TAs that you care about learning the material and that you’re serious about the course.
In addition to the valuable academic assistance you can get at office hours, getting to know your professors and TAs also helps you stand out throughout the term. Here at OSU, class sizes often number in the hundreds so unless you take the initiative your professors and TAs have little more than a set of numbers to go by at the end of term when determining your final grade. Dropping by their office helps them put a face to the scores, and showing that you care about learning the material definitely makes a difference. Reviewing your mistakes and trying to improve throughout the term shows your instructors your willingness to do the hard work and highlights your determination to succeed in spite of any difficulties you might be having with the subject. This extra effort can even sometimes make a difference in your final grade; especially if you’re on the borderline. At the end of term, professors and TAs look at every student’s scores. They take into account a variety of different things depending on the course, including a student’s grades, their participation in class, and yes you guessed it, whether or not they came to office hours for help.
Office hours are typically scheduled at a specific time each week or offered by appointment only. They can usually be found on your syllabus, and most instructors are excited to have their students drop by! If you have never attended office hours, you’re missing out on a crucial source of assistance. Even if you don’t need help, stopping by your instructor’s office to chat for a few minutes helps show that you have a vested interest in the material–even if you accidentally fell asleep last week. Finally, once you have introduced yourself, you’ll probably feel more comfortable approaching them later on, whether it’s to seek assistance, talk about their research, or learn more about their fascinating field of study. You never know when a course might spark your interest!
Tests, assignments, and projects can become more stressful as the term goes farther along. Keep in mind that advisors from the College of Liberal Arts can help assess your academic performance and can recommend classes, opportunities, and options/resources if you are struggling in any of your classes. Keep up all the great work and GO BEAVS!!!