Faculty Office Hours – Don’t Miss Out
Imagine winning a full access day pass to Disneyland. There’s so much to do and see. What would you want to experience? The Matterhorn Bobsleds? Splash Mountain? Pirates of the Caribbean? Star Wars!? (Opens summer of 2019 FYI).
Now imagine all you do the whole day is “it’s a small world.” Tragic. You only experienced a tiny sliver of Disneyland’s offerings. You’d also have that song stuck in your head for weeks. Not cool.
Now think about your time in college. Is it possible you’re experiencing just a sliver of everything available to you? Not that we want to strike FOMO into your heart; that’s not the goal of this post. The goal is to highlight an amazing opportunity that many (perhaps most) college students miss.
We’re talking about faculty office hours. Yes, you’ve probably heard they are important and that you should go. Unfortunately, a lot of students don’t. Indeed, some professors have reported that only about 5% of their students attend office hours. Why do you think this is?
Here are some common responses students share regarding not attending office hours:
- “I don’t know what questions to ask my professor – or what to talk to them about.”
- “I haven’t had any issues yet in class. I’ll go to office hours if I do.”
- “I don’t want to bother my professor – they’re probably busy.”
Do any of these sentiments resonate? It’s okay if they do. It’s true that professors can be intimidating. Sitting in their office face to face and trying to have a conversation might sound like a complete nightmare to some introverts and extroverts alike. However, with just a little preparation and know-how, you can have a really successful experience.
Let’s look at each of the above mentioned reasons for avoiding office hours in an effort to dispel them:
“I don’t know what questions to ask / what to talk about…”
- If it’s your first time in office hours with a professor, start by introducing yourself and reminding them what class you are in (especially if it’s a large lecture hall class with a lot of students).
- Share one thing you’ve learned or appreciated so far in their class. Starting off on a positive note will help set a good tone for the meeting.
- Before the meeting, reflect on the course material and what you’ve covered in class and readings (review your syllabus and notes). What are some questions you have? (Write them down). Is there a specific area that’s fuzzy? Give your professor some guidance and show you’ve made an effort to understand. They will see your effort and appreciate it.
- Do you have an upcoming assignment about which you can ask some clarifying questions?
Want more suggestions? Take a peek at ASU’s guide to meeting with professors
“I haven’t had any issues yet in class…”
- This is a common misconception about the purpose of office hours. They don’t have to only be for when you have issues or questions. You can discuss other things too!
- Still trying to figure out what to major in? Perhaps a professor you admire could offer some perspective and suggest classes for you to take to help you explore options.
- Ask your professor about their own academic and life journey. What led them down the path they took? Your professors are people too – they appreciate it when someone shows interest in their story.
“I don’t want to bother my professors – they’re probably busy.”
- Office hours are built in for students. You won’t be bothering your professors by visiting them during office hours.
- In truth, office hours should really be called “student hours” or “drop-in hours” to make it more clear that the time is designated for students.
- You would be correct that your professors are busy, but again, office hours are for students. Professors appreciate proactive students willing to visit them at the designated time. If you make an appointment ahead of time, be sure to attend. No-showing will not reflect well on you.
- Do your professor’s listed office hours not work with your schedule? Email them to let them know and ask if it would be possible to schedule an appointment outside of those times. This is 100% okay to ask and most professors will do their best to accommodate.
Benefits of attending office hours
There’s a wide range of benefits that can come from attending office hours:
Expanding your professional network
Establishing stronger rapport with your professors. Think about down the road when you might need a professional reference or letter of recommendation for graduate school or a job.
Deeper understanding of course content and earning better grades
Increased sense of belonging on campus
Guidance in determining your vocational / career direction
Take advantage of faculty office hours in college! You can reap some amazing benefits from attending them and you will stand out from your peers by doing so. Give it a try – you will not regret it.
Here are a few more recommended posts on faculty office hours: