What are office hours?

Imagine this scenario…

Your College Success professor has assigned a presentation and your topic is “utilizing support services on campus.”  As you gather information, you have questions about how to organize your presentation and whether or not you are following the instructions correctly.  Unfortunately, your class doesn’t meet again until next week and you want to finish your outline this weekend.

Question:  What do you do?

The answer is simple:  visit your professor during OFFICE HOURS!

So what exactly are office hours? 

Every full-time professor on campus holds 5 office hours outside of the classroom.  This is the time to ask questions that you may not have been able to ask in class, to discuss a personal issue that is affecting your success in class, or to seek suggestions on how you can improve your progress in class.  Basically, office hours are designated for students to meet with their professors for help or information related to the class.

When are office hours available?

Professors determine their own office hours around their classroom time.  Office hours for your professors will be listed in their course syllabi, posted outside their office doors, listed on their D2L pages, or even recorded on their office voice mail.  If you can’t find that information anywhere, just simply ask your professor!

How are office hours set up?

Your professors will let you know their preference for office hours.  For example, some professors may want to students to let them know ahead of time that they are coming so that there is a set date and time to meet.  Other professors may hold office hours on a “first come, first serve” basis.  Just remember that you are one student out of many students in multiple classrooms and there may be times when you are not able to meet with your professor immediately.  If this happens, you always have the option to call or email your professor.

How much time do you get during office hours?

Your professors may not hold office hours every day, so be sure to check their schedules.  Sometimes office hours on a particular day may only be for a couple of hours and it will be important that you honor that time.  For example, if your English professor has office hours every Monday afternoon from 12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., please do not show up at 2:40 p.m. for help with your thesis statement.  Your professor may have a class that begins at 3:00 p.m. and may need to prepare for it.  Also, don’t show up at 12:45 p.m. and expect to have the entire 2 hours of office time for yourself.  There may be other students who need assistance and your time may be limited.

Use office hours wisely!

If your professor has given you a 15-minute time slot during office hours, don’t waste that time.  That means that you must show up on time and show up prepared!  For example, if you have an appointment to discuss the grade on your last essay, you may want to bring the essay so that your professor can review it with you.  It will also be important to bring a notebook so that you can jot down information that you have discussed.

Don’t be scared!

There is no reason to be scared of meeting with your professor.  Meeting with your professor is actually a positive thing because it shows that you care about your progress in class and that you want to take responsibility for your learning!  Your professors will do their best to remember your name, but this may be difficult especially at the start of the semester when your class has only met twice so far.  Your professor may not know your name right away, but that doesn’t mean that your professor doesn’t care about you.  Just introduce yourself and kindly remind your professor which class you are in.

Don’t wait until the last minute to meet with your professor.

If you are struggling in a class do not wait until the last minute to meet with your professor, especially when you want to discuss your grade.  If the semester is 16 weeks long, you do not want to wait until the 12th week to talk to your professor about your failing grade.  By then, it is probably too late and there may not be anything that you or your professor can do to improve your grade.

Please be nice.

There are certain expectations that come with being a college student.  This includes being mature, polite, respectful, and honest.  You may be irritated that you received a failing grade on an exam, but is it really your professor’s fault?  Could you have studied more, listened to class lectures, met with a tutor, or joined a study group?  Don’t visit your professor during office hours to complain; instead, visit your professor to discuss strategies for improving on the next exam or to discuss what you didn’t understand the first time.

Visiting office hours does NOT mean that you are in big trouble!

Ok..so this may have been a bad thing when you were in high school, but you are now in college and learning is so much more different!  In general, no one tells you whether or not you have to meet with your professor outside of class.  In fact, you could go the entire 16 weeks of the semester without stepping foot into any of your professors’ offices and that is your completely your choice!  But, don’t forget that your professors can be your one of your biggest resources on campus as well as one of your biggest supporters!