Using office hours to your advantage

Most classes begin with the distribution of the course syllabus, which many students pack away in their folders never to reference again. Those same students may find themselves pulling all-nighters in the coming weeks, struggling to keep up with the course. Where can you go for help? In college classes, it may not be possible to spend enough time on a unit, but many professors have a safety net for this. Professors are required to host a certain number of office hours per week and those hours are typically listed on that course syllabus you stuffed away after the first day of class. Visiting a professor during office hours can get you individualized help from the best source.

What exactly are office hours?

Every professor has a designated office space where he or she is permitted to work outside of the classroom. The professor will often use this space and time to plan for their lectures or to grade assignments. Professors have allocated time slots when they are willing to meet with students to discuss any questions, concerns, comments, or ideas that a student may have. These time slots are Office Hours. Anything related to the course can be discussed and it is the perfect opportunity to meet with the professor one-on-one. Professors are often appreciative of guests, and even encourage students to take advantage of the additional assistance. After all, their time is better spent if students actually come in to see them.  Side note: If you are going to talk to them about a topic of discussion that requires time to prepare a response or find an answer, it may be courteous to email the professor beforehand as to allow the meeting to be more efficient.


What can you gain from Office Hours?

Individual, face-to-face meetings with a professor can be priceless. Communicating in class or via email is often more challenging due to time or technology restraints. Meeting in person may serve as the most efficient form.  Students struggling with course material often find Office Hours are a good time to ask specific questions about the subject matter. Do not turn it into a tutoring session, but brief assistance is welcome. Students with grade concerns may often find this time useful as well. Do not wait until the last week to address concerns. Meet early and frequently if the grade is not where it should be.

The opportunities for office hours are endless. Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects is being able to develop a relationship with a professor. When the professor knows more about you, they are often able to offer more assistance. The professor can get you in touch with the department head or other faculty who may be of assistance as well. Professors are there to help, but the first step is seeking it out. Being a student involves proactively seeking assistance when necessary and Office Hours are one of the most efficient ways to do so.

ThomasPutman_headshotFinalThomas is a first year student at Carroll Community College. He’s majoring in Business Management, but is more interested in legal studies and intends to change it. Outside of school Thomas enjoys concerts, traveling, and adventuring with friends.