How to Prepare for Office Hours in College
Last updated September 8, 2022
In college, professors and teaching assistants will have set office hours that are scheduled outside of the normal class time. This time serves as an opportunity for students to ask their professors/TAs any class-related questions & express concerns. While office hours typically aren’t mandatory for students to attend, they’re still beneficial to students in many ways. Some typical reasons students go to office hours include:
- Talk about class concepts you may be struggling with
- Discuss grades
- Preparing for an exam, project, or paper
- Seek learning accommodations
- Research interests or wanting to learn more about the subject
- Networking and mentorship opportunities
Going to 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 some tips to prepare for office hours!
Have questions and talking points prepared
Your professors and TAs are busy, so be sure to come prepared for office hours. 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. You can also bring specific examples of work you want help with so your professor or TAs know exactly how they can support you. Some classes can have several hundred students, so being prepared will help guide the conversation and make the most of your time during office hours.
Check-in with your teacher/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 class grades for participation, you might be able to work with your professor to possibly make up for missed time. This will show them that you are being proactive about your absence. They may be more willing to accommodate your situation.
Let your instructor know when something is affecting your ability to learn
Going to office hours can be a great way to keep your instructor in the loop of any issues that are impacting your ability to fully participate in the class. This could range from seeking learning accommodations like longer test times to asking for more elaboration on a concept that was covered too quickly. Remember that college is a lot about you taking ownership of your experience, especially in large classes. While there is plenty of support and resources provided, there will be times where you will need to advocate for yourself.
Take responsibility for your success
If you think you've answered something correctly but got low marks, going to office hours to discuss with your instructor is a great idea. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter/semester to bring this to their attention.
Get to know your instructor
Building a relationship with your instructor 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, 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!
Remember - your professors and TAs want you to succeed. Taking advantage of office hours will go a long way in ensuring your success in that class and your understanding of the subject as a whole.
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