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Talking To Your Professors
One of my biggest regrets from my first year of university was not talking to my professors more. All professors have office hours and most encourage students to come visit. This is something that seems like a really good idea, but if you’re like me (and a lot of other students on campus) then this can also seem pretty scary.
For some reason, lots of students coming out of high school (myself included) don’t go to office hours. Everyone may have a different reason why, but here are
some common myths de-bunked about going to office hours:
1. You should only go to office hours if you’re doing really badly in a class.
No! This is not true at all. If you’re doing well in a class – go to office hours. You can talk to your prof for feedback on exams and assignments, to clarify lecture notes, or to get extra information on a topic you find really interesting.
2. No one goes to office hours.
I admit that I used to have this mindset. I thought this until the first time I went to a prof’s office hours and it was lined up down the hall! Granted this was around finals… But nonetheless, people are definitely going to office hours more than you think.
3. Your profs will think you’re a slacker if you go to office hours.
ABSOLUTELY NOT. I can 100% guarantee you that your professors will appreciate your initiative to seek out help and will see you as the opposite of a slacker.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are
some things I wish I had known about talking to my profs and going to office hours:
1. Don’t wait until you are failing a class to go talk to your prof.
However, if you’re failing a class – definitely go talk to your prof!
2. Be organized.
Know exactly what you’re going to ask before you go. If you’re having trouble with a particular concept, question, or assignment, bring it with you. This will help your prof understand exactly what you need help with and things will run smoothly. This will also ensure that in the moment you don’t forget about any questions you have.
3. Your profs can only do so much.
While they’ll be able to answer any general questions and guide you in the right direction, they can’t tell you exactly whats going to be on an upcoming exam. Don’t go in the day before a final expecting your prof to be a miracle worker.
4. Introduce yourself
When you walk in, make sure you tell your prof your name as well as what class of theirs you’re taking. This may seem self-explanatory, but from what I’ve heard, can often be forgotten.
5. You don’t have to stick to specific office hours
Sometimes a prof’s office hours will fall at really inconvenient times. Never fear! Most are willing to see you at other times or help you over email. TAs can also be really helpful if you urgently want to see someone face to face.
6. Make sure you’re not asking things you could answer yourself.
If I can can give you one piece of advice this is it: do not ask questions about details that are found on the syllabus or in any other easily accessible ressource. If you need clarification on something that’s fine. But make sure you’ve consulted the resources your prof has given to you before going directly to see them.
I didn’t go to office hours until late into the second semester of my first year and honestly, at the time, I was absolutely terrified. Looking back now, I don’t know why I ever thought is was such a big deal (check out this article to relive more first-year woes). Never be hesitant to seek out help. As cheesy as it sounds, your professors are there to help you and are glad to do it.
Carly Checholik is in her 2nd year of Archaeology and Development Studies. She likes cuddling cats, drinking coffee, doing yoga, and watching the Gilmore Girls. Follow her on Instagram @carlyannac!
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