Taking Advantage of Office hours in College

As I reflect back on my college experience and think about the things that helped me the most, one of the fondest memories was with Dr. F’s office hours for calculus.  I took calculus at 8:00AM, four days a week.  The combination of an early morning class and a course that challenged me (the future English major), to say I struggled is an understatement.


I remember the first time one of my classmates suggested we go to our professor’s office hours, I had no idea what she was talking about.  She showed me how, in the course syllabus (wait, we’re supposed to read that?),  the professor specifically outlined the specific times we could go to his office for extra help.  The first time we went, I was nervous that the professor would think I wasn’t paying attention in class or that  I wasn’t spending the time to prepare outside of class.  He welcomed me and my classmate and sat with us to go over any and all questions we had.  It not only helped me to learn the concepts and pass the class, but it taught me that if I was looking for it, help was readily available.


While different schools will have different types of office hours, all schools will have the opportunity to get the support you need.  Some schools/courses will have time set aside with the professor, other schools/courses will have time with teaching assistants.  Some office hours will be in person, others may be virtual, but the reason behind them are always the same.  Making sure that students have the support they need to be successful in the course.


Learning the availability of these office hours is only step one in the process.  Actually taking advantage of these opportunities is the most important part.  Sometimes it is tough to admit when you may need extra help.  You may see it as a sign of weakness or a point of shame, but in all of my experience as a student and as an educator, nothing makes an educator happier than being able to help a student succeed.  Seeing that lightbulb go on as we go through a challenging lesson or topic is the reason so many educators go into their field.  On top of that, the more you get to know your professor or teaching assistant, the more insight into the field you will gain.


Looking back at my 8:00AM calculus class, I can honestly say that I was taking the course to cross it off my list and never look back.  As my interests grew and as I started to think about life after my undergraduate years, I realized that I wanted to look at graduate school.  One of the prerequisites for the program I was considering was a statistics class.  I ended up getting lucky and Dr. F was teaching the class.  Not only did I utilize his office hours 3 and a half years later as a senior, I also brought a few wayward souls with me.