You’ll learn better and your professors will be more vested in your success if they get to know you a little. How do you make that happen? Office hours. A consistent, positive chat in the office can help you achieve optimal academic success. An added bonus will be those great letters of recommendation you’ll receive for grad school because the professors will know you very well! Office hours are important.
Here are the top 5 reasons students give for not attending office hours:
1. Professors are busy – I don’t want to annoy them.
Professors hold office hours in hopes that students will come….okay, not really. They hold office hours because it’s required of them. But your professor doesn’t want to sit in that office for an extra hour all alone and bored. Think of this as a standing appointment set just for you and your classmates to keep the professor from being too lonely.
2. Someone might already be there for office hours. Awkward!
It’s okay if the professor is already talking to another student. If it sounds personal or angry, you may have to wait a minute, but it’s still worth it. Honestly, you’re more likely to be invited to come in and join the conversation. It’s amazingly fun to have a small discussion: you might learn a lot while making a new friend or two.
3. Office hours don’t really affect anyone’s grades.
As much as professors and universities work to create objective grading systems, there is still a certain degree of subjectivity that goes into final grades. Even if they grade blind, a certain amount of calculating and rounding goes into the compiling of your final score. If your professor knows how passionate you are about the subject, or how hard you’ve struggled to learn the subject matter, your grade could be rounded more in your favor than if you are a nameless person on the third row. Also, talking about the coursework during office hours gives you more insight and the ability to craft a better educated answer.
4. I don’t have any questions regarding the course material.
If you can’t think of a question about some material you don’t understand (which honestly, you should) it’s okay to ask for their expertise on something else. If something really interests you about that class or there is a topic in the class you’d like to know more about, ask if they can recommend how you can find more information on it. They may know about a course your university offers, a person in the industry you need to contact, or a book that will illuminate the subject. If someone else is there, sit back and let them ask the questions. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn. Office hours are not just about covering course material, they’re also about connecting with your professor and getting yourself known. Think of it as networking.
5. I just don’t have the time to do office hours. I need to worry about getting into grad school.
Building good relationships with your professors will definitely help with obtaining stellar letters of recommendation for grad school. If your professor doesn’t really know you, you can’t expect a personable, glowing letter written all about you and your accomplishments. A professor can really get to know you during office hours; can assess your strengths, become vested in your future success, and can sometimes put in a good word for you in addition to that awesome letter of recommendation.
Remember to attend office hours, a professor who actually knows you and is vested in your success can be golden.