There seems to be this attitude among students of every age when it comes to office hours. Some people think they’re a waste of time, others are scared, and a whole lot of people think that they won’t gain anything by going to office hours. Personally, I think it’s time to get over the notion that professors are these scary, emotionless, uncaring people and that their office hours are a bad thing. In fact, they could be the very key to your academic and personal success.
I’ve been there. I’ve been that student who wants so badly to do well, but can’t muster up the courage to step into my professor’s office and at least introduce myself. Going to an elite institution makes it easy to feel intimidated and scared. And even though upperclassmen and professors kept saying, “Come to office hours,” it didn’t sink in for me until at least halfway through my first semester. By then, the midterms were over, and I rushed in, panting, and saying some long speech that could be summarized, “Please help me save my GPA.” Not the best situation to be in, trust me. And it’s a really hard habit to break.
My suggestion? Go early. Like, this week if you can. Walk in and introduce yourself and say you just want to get to know your professor. Talk about your background and what made you interested in the class. Tell them why you’re excited now that you’re in the class. Talk about any fears you might have as far as test prep or time management. Ask them if they know of any good resources that successful students have used in the past for their classes. Ask about their research. Get to know them as a person, not just as a professor.
And don’t go just once. Even if you are an active participant in class (which is easier for some classes than others), go to office hours throughout the semester just to ask little questions. If there’s a paper to write, stop by just to share your potential thesis and get their feedback before you even write it. Check in with them if you notice something’s up with your grades.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t be afraid to reach out and make yourself known to your professors. They are here to support you in any way they can, and they do want to see you succeed. Never forget that!