One of the greatest but most underutilized tools of college is a professor’s office hours. Visiting with your professors outside of class is a great way to make meaningful connections with your professors and get help in a class when needed.
The first important thing to know about office hours is that professors want to see you in there. Many times professors simply sit in their office waiting for someone to stop in and no one ever comes to their office. They are ready and happy to answer any questions but no one comes to them with any questions. Office hours are not just a time to ask for help though they can also be very useful before you need help. If you have a paper due in class soon do not be afraid to ask for suggestions on what to write about or if the professor would review a first draft of your paper. Or if you have a midterm and want a part of what to clarify your understanding of the concepts you are studying, you can ask professors to briefly go over the material you were confused about.
Another part of office hours that rarely gets used or talked about is going to office hours to simply connect with professors. Office hours are great times to ask professors for advice on internships, jobs, grad schools or research opportunities. Just this term I was looking to do some extra research because of a simple class schedule. I went to a few of my favorite professors to ask them if they wanted any assistance with research they were doing. Dr. Solberg, a political science professor, said that she did. She is writing a chapter in an encyclopedia on the media and the court system. I am helping her by reviewing political science journal articles on how the media covers the court system. By using office hours to talk to Dr. Solberg about any possibilities she has, I now have this great opportunity to do research.
In conclusion don’t be afraid to use office hours. If you are unsure of what to write in a paper, or confused on certain material, go and ask for clarification. Lastly do not be afraid to use office hours to get to know your professors. If you are looking to do research or are applying to grad schools ask your professors for advice, they will love to share with you all of their wisdom.