A faculty member works with a studentA great way to set yourself up for success this spring semester is to attend your professors’ office hours. Office hours allow you to interact with your professor one-on-one, ask questions and get clarification about course information. 

Visiting office hours early in the semester and working with your professors can build confidence as the semester progresses. Here are a few ways to make the most of meeting with your professors. 

Identify your needs

Even if you don’t have a reason to attend office hours early in the semester, go and introduce yourself to your professor. Meeting your professor now can make it easier to go later in the semester if you have a question or need help. There are many reasons to go to office hours as the semester progresses:

  • You want clarification on an assignment or a grade you’ve received.
  • You’ve missed a class or classes.
  • You’re interested in a topic and want to do further research.
  • You want career advice.
  • You’re having issues with a classmate.
  • You’re looking for an academic mentor.
  • You’re shy about asking questions or commenting in class and want to speak directly with the professor.

Be prepared

Find out when your professor’s office hours are by checking your syllabus. If you have time conflicts with office hours and other classes, contact your professor directly to request a meeting at a different time. Be sure to provide times you are available and ask what works best for them. 

Come prepared with questions and concerns you have about the course. Office hours are helpful for a variety of reasons. You can ask questions and learn about their teaching style early in the semester. Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Do you have any tips on the best ways to study or understand the material?
  • Are there any major concepts I should prioritize learning?
  • Will you review a draft of papers before students turn in the final product?
  • How does a concept we discussed in class relate to the reading material? 
  • Can we go over the material I missed during my absence?

Maximize your time

During your meeting, ensure you stay present mentally to get the most out of your professor’s time. Here are some things to try during your meeting:

  • Ask the most important questions first.
  • Bring any assignments with you that you plan to discuss.
  • Take notes that help you better understand your questions.
  • Be respectful and stay engaged.
  • Set up a follow-up meeting with your professor if you need additional help.

Follow up

After attending office hours, follow up via email and thank your professor for answering your questions. If you have unanswered questions from your meeting, include them in your follow-up email.

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