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How to make the most out of your professor’s office hours

By Jessica Ward

1. Have an objective before you arrive
Before you go, make sure you have an idea of what you want to talk about. If some of the material has been confusing, arrive with specific questions in mind (or better yet, on paper! Write down your questions to show that you’re prepared!) That’ll ensure that you leave with the exact information you came for!

2. Don’t only attend when you receive a bad grade or need an extension
Yes, it’s true that professors are more accommodating and understanding with these things when they know you better, but this isn’t the way to do it. They want to know your work ethic, your dedication to improvement, and that this isn’t just another mandatory class to you (even if it technically is). Attend office hours when you need clarification on readings, to elaborate on project ideas, or anything else that could improve your performance in class!

3. Work through examples with your professors
Office hours are a great way to work through problems on your assignments. STEM majors (or anyone taking a math class or science lab) will tell you that walking through specific problems with your professor will only ensure that you fully understand the process. Even if you understand it 98% of the way, you’ll leave with 100% confidence.

4. Express interest in the readings
If you’ve been enjoying the reading material, let your professor know! They dedicate their life to their field of study, and they have plenty more recommendations where that came from.

5. Review an early draft of an essay
Sometimes rubrics and prompts only do so much. If you’re second-guessing your thesis, bring a draft to office hours so you can walk through it together. You’ll have ample opportunity to ask certain questions, and your professor will be able to give you feedback on what you’re thinking so far. Make sure not to procrastinate on this one— you’ll want time to re-write your draft if necessary!

6. Bring your study guide
This is especially helpful during midterm and final season. When the time comes, print the course study guide and bring it to office hours with the intention of going over every detail with your professor. This is highly recommended to students who are taking courses with few exams— these will make up a larger chunk of your final grade!

7. Talk with your professor about your goals
Professors are seasoned professionals in their field. They know a lot of impressive people. Talking with them about your goals and aspirations could lead you to internships and other exciting opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

8. Remember your professor wants to help you
It’s their job to teach you. If you are having trouble in class, it’s their job to help you understand. Keep that in mind when you feel shy about approaching your professor, but also remember that it’s up to you to approach them in the first place!

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