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How to Prepare for Office Hours in College

Last updated March 11, 2024

If you attend a large college, it's likely that some of your classes can have up to hundreds of students, making connecting with your professors a bit more difficult. That’s why professors hold office hours to support their students outside of the classroom! We have tips on how to prepare for office hours in college.

What are college office hours?

In college, professors schedule office hours outside of normal class time to allow students to sign up or drop by to ask questions, express concerns, and receive the support needed to succeed in that class. This is valuable facetime with professors that can benefit you in many ways!

Reasons to attend office hours

Attending office hours can be a great way to get help, make sure you're on track, and demonstrate your commitment to the class. Here are other reasons students may go to office hours:

Check in with your professor when you've been out sick or have a planned absence

In college, you are responsible for any information and assignments you missed during an absence. Visiting office hours can be a great way to catch up on any important information you may have missed. If your professor grades student participation in each class, try and work with them to learn if you can make up those points another way, like through an extra credit assignment. This will show them that you are being proactive about your absence, and they may be more willing to accommodate your situation.

Let your professor know when something is affecting your ability to learn

Attending office hours can be a great way to keep your professor in the loop of any issues that are impacting your ability to fully participate in the class. This could range from seeking learning accommodations to asking for more elaboration on a concept that was covered too quickly. College requires a lot of self-advocacy, especially when it comes to your academics. Telling your professor what you need and where you're struggling is a great way to receive help while building foundational skills that will benefit you in college and for the rest of your life. 

Get to know your professor

Building a relationship with your professor will be beneficial to you in the long run. It will allow you to feel more comfortable addressing course concerns, gain a deeper understanding of the class material, and allow a professor to get to know you as a student. This will be helpful if you ever need an academic reference for a scholarship, graduate school, or a job!

A blonde woman wearing a backpack looks at a cherry blossom tree - How to Prepare for Office Hours in College

How to prepare for office hours in college

Here are some tips to prepare for office hours.

Check your syllabus for information about office hours

Office hours will vary by professor. Some may require appointments while others will allow drop-ins during specific windows of time. Your professor will provide details about their office hours and preferred contact methods in the course syllabus, so make sure to review this information beforehand. If you can't meet with your professor during their available times, email them and ask if you can set up a separate time to meet.

Have questions and talking points prepared

Make a list of things you'd like to discuss ahead of time. This can include things like a grade you received recently, an assigned reading or piece of homework you’re struggling with, or a concept you’re learning that you could use more clarity on.

Take notes and follow up with any action items

Depending on how many topics you cover during office hours, it may be helpful to take notes while you meet with your professor. After meeting with them, take a few moments to organize your notes and make sure to jot down any action items or suggestions from them. These notes will serve as a valuable reference when you're studying or working on assignments later.

In addition, consider sending a follow-up email to your professor, thanking them for their time and summarizing key takeaways from your meeting. This not only shows your appreciation, but also ensures that you both have a clear record of what was discussed. It's a great way to maintain a strong line of communication and show your commitment to your studies.

Don’t wait until finals week!

Attending office hours throughout the term (rather than just during finals week) can give you consistent support and guidance to succeed. Visiting office hours early and often can allow you to have more meaningful discussions about the course material while building a strong connection with your professor. 

Have any questions about working with professors and TAs? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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