Published: Sept. 7, 2021

One of the best ways to stay ahead in your classes is to use your professors as a resource. Believe it or not, they want to see you succeed. The more you ask questions and engage with them during and outside of class, the easier your learning experience can be. Here is a list of things to try to maximize your professor’s office hours.  

Make note of office hours

As you start the semester, it can be helpful to write down each of your classes’ office hours information in one place. Note your instructors’ names, where office hours will be (virtual or in person) and when they will be offered (time and days of the week). 

If you have time conflicts with office hours and other classes, reach out to your instructor directly to request a meeting at a different time. Be sure to provide times you are available and ask which of those times works best for them.

Be prepared

It’s important to come prepared with questions and concerns you have about the course content. This is a great time to ask your professor for clarification on a theme, or other ways you can prepare for exams or class assignments. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Do you have any tips on how to best study or prepare for the exam?
  • Are you willing to review a draft of my paper before turning in the final product?
  • Can you explain how the reading connects to the lecture topics?
  • Can we go over the questions I missed on the exam?

Being prepared also means arriving on time. Make sure you have the correct office hour or virtual meeting link to log in or arrive on time. If there is anything more an instructor appreciates, it is a student well prepared. 

Maximize your time

During office hours make sure you stay present mentally so you can get the most of your and your professor’s time. Here are some things to try during your meeting.

  • Take notes that help you better understand your questions
  • Be respectful and stay engaged
  • Ask the questions that have the most importance for you first
  • Set up a follow-up meeting with your professor if you need additional help

After office hours

Aside from being proactive and attending office hours, another great way to let your professor know you are serious about the course is to follow up afterwards.

After attending office hours, follow up via email with any other questions you had that you did not get answered during your meeting. Be sure to thank your instructor for meeting with you. Remember that professors have their own research going on and thanking them for their time to answer your questions can go a long way. 

Don’t forget to compile the notes you took during office hours and add them to your class notes where necessary. Try to apply them to new practice problems to help you internalize your learning.