Why and How to Use Office Hours!
"It's not about your resources, it's about your resourcefulness" -Tony Robbins, American Author, Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Philanthropist.
Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin! In this post, we tackle one of the most important resources available to FUS students, office hours. Some of the most common cases why I have attended a professor's office hours are to ask for advice/review (on papers, assignments, future course selections etc.), to check/clarify course material/grades, or ask about external resources/opportunities. The semester has just started, which means most people who traveled to campus are still in quarantine, but thankfully students can still set up appointments with professors virtually! Here are some reasons why office hours are so important, and how to use them :)
Why are Office Hours Important?
It is an opportunity to clarify information and/or ask questions. As a student, maybe something did not make sense in class when the professor was teaching. Perhaps the topic stimulated something that you want to know more about. Perhaps you are unsure of an assignment. Perhaps you missed a class and are unsure of the material. Well, office hours are the perfect opportunity to ask for clarifications, or ask further questions.
It is an opportunity to ask for advice. Professors at FUS have so much experience and so much knowledge. They are there to help students. So to my fellow students, use your professors as a resource! If you have a paper due and want feedback, ask your professors to do a quick review when attending their office hours. Perhaps you need advice on which classes to take for the following semester, ask your professors! Perhaps you are like me a year ago, and needed to find internships to complete your major requirements, ask your professors! They have so many connections and can point in the right direction.
Attending office hours can help build a good relationship with a professor. Going to office hours is one way to shows the professor that you care about their class (or at least that you are making somewhat of an effort to). Professors are also people at the end of the day, so attending their office hours. In doing so, you are showing them that you care about their efforts into providing you with a good education can go a long way. It is very likely that somewhere down the line, a professor can help you with something (i.e. get professional connections, recommendation letters, advice etc.), so I highly recommend creating and maintaining a good relationship with your professors.
How to Use Office Hours:
Things to do before:
Do your research. Check the syllabus.
There are actually shirts like this, and people actually sell shirts like this, which means people are making money because students do not check the syllabus. My point is, check the syllabus. It is very possible if you have a question, the answer might be there. Also, do your research and consult the reading(s) and your notes if you have a question about the class. Maybe do a brief search on Google. If you can find your answer via the syllabus or the internet, then no need to go to office hours.
Let them know you are coming. Some people just like showing up on the spot, but I always like sending the professor a quick email asking them if I can stop by during their office hours. There are several reasons why this is beneficial. Firstly, what if for whatever reason (already have meetings booked, urgently needed elsewhere, other emergencies etc.) the professor is unavailable that day. If you send them an email, then they will let you know if they will not be in their office, so you will avoid showing up to their office hours and leaving empty handed.Secondly, it is also a bit of common courtesy to let the professor know you are coming.
Be prepared. Professors do have lives as well. They probably have work to do, and they probably have a good amount of people to meet with. Therefore, make sure you arrive prepared so you can efficiently use the time that you have. Know what the purpose of the meeting is (i.e. maybe you need advice or maybe you need clarifications). Bring everything you might need to the office hours (i.e. laptop, notes, books, academic plans etc.). If you have a specific question, then come prepared with the question.
Things to do during the meeting:
Be respectful. This means arrive on time, listen to the professor, do not interrupt them, thank them for their time etc.
Take notes. Taking notes is a great thing to do if in the future you want to come back to what you had discussed during a professor's office hours.
Be honest. Your professors are there to help you at the end of the day, and it is easier to do that if you speak up and be honest with them.
Things to do after the meeting:
Follow through with and incorporate their suggestions. Maybe the professor recommended to go to the Writing and Learning Center to schedule a tutoring appointment. Maybe the professor recommended for you to consult a piece of work or a contact. For students, most of the time you should follow the advice of your professor, and if you choose not to then you better have a really good reason why.
In general, I think office hours are another tool to help achieve academic success, and in most cases, the most successful students are the ones who know how to use their tools effectively. Also my from experience, a professor will always appreciate students who come to their office hours, unless the student wastes their time and does not follow some of the things I mentioned to do above (i.e. show up late, unprepared, and is disrespectful). Good luck!