The Do’s And Don’ts Of Office Hours

As we all head into the new semester, we’re all looking for a way to slay in our classes. For many of us, that means one thing: taking advantage of office hours.  To make sure you get everything you can out of office hours while getting your professor to love you all at the same time, here are our fool-proof do’s and don’ts of office hours:

DO use them whenever you need.

For most professors, having office hours are a requirement from the college or university, meaning there is a mandated set number of hours your professor has to help you. If you’re ever struggling in a class, have a little question about a paper, or missed some work for being sick, definitely take advantage of this time. Remember: office hours are part of what you’re paying for with your tuition, so get your money’s worth.

DON’T go there with nothing to do.

Definitely don’t go to office hours if you don’t have a specific question, or know what you want to get out of them. Walking in the door saying, “I don’t get what’s going on,” isn’t going to help you, and it’s going to piss off your professor (hey, they’re not a mind reader). Make sure you have specific questions when you walk in the door.

Sometimes it just happens that we are so lost that we can’t even formulate questions. This seems a little bit more like a job for a student tutor. Try setting up an appointment with one of them to help you figure out what you need to review with your professor. Who knows, maybe you’ll solve the issue while you’re with the tutor.

DO shoot them an email beforehand.

This is especially important if you think you’re going to need a ton of individual attention. While most office hours operate with an open door policy, sometimes you might need a huge chunk of time. It’ll help you and your professor if you email her beforehand to block off a certain amount of time. That way they can make sure she doesn’t set up an appointment with another student while you need her help, too.

DON’T feel entitled to an appointment not during their office hours.

While your professor might offer generous office hours, and have them readily available on her office door or syllabus, there might be times where you just can’t make it during those time slots. While we definitely suggest you email your professor to try to set up another time, make sure you don’t feel entitled to that time.

Like we said, professors usually have a required number of hours, and after that they don’t owe anything to you. We’re sure they’ll want to help you, and we encourage you to ask them questions by any means possible, but a bratty college student demanding more of their time? Not the best way to get your professors to want to help you.

DO double-check their office hour policies.

Some professors have strict policies with their office hours. For some, it means they’ll review an old version of an exam with you; others won’t. Make sure you’re clear on their policies before you expect anything. Nothing would suck more than heading into office hours thinking your professor is going to take a look at a rough draft of your essay, only to find out she’ll only review outlines.