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It's true. I know, I was shocked to learn this, too. I recently completed my first semester with office hours as a graduate teaching assistant. On Wednesdays at noon, I excitedly sat at my desk and waited expectantly for a student to arrive. Every week. For sixteen weeks. And every Wednesday at two, I packed my stuff back up and left for class, having spoken to no one for the two whole hours and having spent more time playing Two Dots than being productive. Only twice did anyone show up.
I was surprised by two things: 1. That no one came, week after week and 2. That I really wanted them to come. I don't know why I was surprised by the first point; I could probably count on one hand how many times, in my too-many years of higher education, I have utilized my professors' office hours. I was even more surprised by the second point. I had always assumed that professors held office hours because they had to but that they'd rather we not show up so they can get their work done. I was wrong.
So I've come here from my liminal role of student and teacher to tell you: USE YOUR PROFESSORS' OFFICE HOURS
You aren’t bothering them. Your question isn’t dumb. You don’t have to know everything. They’re there to help you. And when you use their office hours, you help them. Students asking for help helps professors to identify what is and isn’t working in the classroom. Maybe their lectures aren’t landing right or maybe the assignments are too challenging, or maybe everything is perfect (doubtful). When you use the office hours, professors can assess all this based on the conversation, on your questions, on what you do and don’t understand.
So how exactly should you use office hours? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for you to keep in mind.
Office hours are one of the best kept secrets in college. Now you know, they exist for a reason and everyone benefits from you using them. Check your syllabus to see when and where your professor holds office hours and make a plan to go after the first essay is handed back or before the midterm exam. If you happen to walk into my office hours and find me playing Two Dots, please interrupt me, I’ve been trying to beat this level for a day and a half and I would much rather talk about your essay.
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