This article appears in College Prep 2018.
Office hours are an opportunity to meet with a professor, ask questions and form a more personal connection, but many students are missing out.
“I think most faculty are really delighted to have people come into office hours, but we rarely ever have them,” said University of Wisconsin curriculum and instruction assistant professor Rosemary Russ. As few as 5 percent of students attend office hours, and it’s worse for large lecture classes, said Christian Castro, assistant director of University of Wisconsin’s Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence program.
Not only are students who visit their professors more likely to report better overall college satisfaction, they also retain information better and achieve higher personal and intellectual growth, according to a University of Toronto study.
“The major thing I would like both students and faculty to know is that office hours aren’t just for talking about the content of the course. It is an opportunity for this bigger relationship,” Russ said.
Here are some of Russ’ and Castro’s tips for office hours:
— Go in pairs or groups. Professors are happy to talk to more than one student at a time.
— Know that you’re not intruding or interrupting. Office hours are a time that is set aside for you.
— Set up the meeting via email, which might make it less intimidating than just showing up.
If you don’t have a specific question, here are some suggestions for things to talk about:
— How did the professor get to where they are?
— Advice about your career path or college courses to take
— How does what you’re learning apply to the world beyond the classroom?
— How does what you’re learning in week one connect to week four, five or six?
— Let professors know if you’re overwhelmed with the course or with classes in general. They can give you advice.