Published: Sept. 8, 2020 By
professor leads class while wearing a mask

One of the greatest tools you have at your disposal are your professors. The more you ask questions and engage with them during and outside of class, the easier your learning experience can be. 

Here are some ways to help you maximize your professor’s office hours.

Know all office hours

With the possibility of your classes being in-person, remote or a combination of both, it can be helpful to write down each of your classes’ office hours information in one place. Note your instructors’ names, whether or not they offer Zoom or in-person office hours and when they are being offered. If in-person office hours are available, be sure to add the location so you know where to go. 

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 set up monthly meet-ups to make sure you are staying on track. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Do you have any tips on how to best study/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?

Academic resources

Being prepared also means arriving on time to office hours, especially if they are scheduled. If you are going in person, be sure to physically go to the office before the meeting to pinpoint the exact location. If you are attending virtual office hours, make sure you have the correct link to log in and be on time. There is nothing an instructor appreciates more than a prepared student. 

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:

  • 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 the next 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 how you follow up afterwards.

After 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. 

Remember 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.