A faculty member works with a student

Attending your professors' office hours is a great way to set yourself up for success this semester. Office hours allow you to interact with your professor one-on-one, ask questions and get clarification about course information. Students may feel intimidated to meet one-on-one with their professors, but your professors are excited to see you. They want you to do well and appreciate when students take the time to attend office hours. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your professors as people and not just academic experts.  

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 meetings with your professors.  

Identify your needs 

Even if you don’t have an academic reason to attend office hours early in the semester, you can 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 more comfortable asking questions directly to 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, 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.