As we move full steam ahead into a brand new school year, students are on their best behavior, pioneering all kinds of new study strategies. Perhaps the most popular option for goody-two-shoes everywhere is office hours. Attending your professor’s office hours is the standard recommendation for any student looking to brush up on their course material or put in their time as teacher’s pet. I’m a huge proponent of office hours, if you’re willing to brave a few hardships along the way to higher learning. Like anything else, office hours have their high and low points.
High Point: Feeling Like a Star Student
You may be hanging on by a thread in lecture, but in office hours the floor is yours to ask whatever questions you like. And as you sit beside your professor writing in your neatest handwriting, it’s hard not to feel ahead of the game. Prelim? What prelim?
Low Point: Stupid Questions
Ideally you’ll strut into office hours and pose the most brilliant of questions. More often than not though, you’ll have a more elementary question or you’ll be unable to answer one of your professor’s. You may have to push through some feelings of idiocy to get to your answer.
High Point: Getting Good Answers
You can talk to all of the TAs and tutors in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s your professor that writes the exams. By going to office hours you can skip the run around and get an actual–gasp!–straight answer. Say what you want about your prof’s teaching style, but they definitely know the material.
Low Point: The Inevitable Awkward Moment
You’d be hard pressed to find a college student that loves introductions, particularly introductions to a professor. You might have to repeat your name six times and engage in some cringeworthy small talk. You might laugh too long at a statement that wasn’t meant to be a joke or find yourself unable to find the bullet-point in your notes that you know you highlighted for this very occasion. The getting-to-know-you stage is awkward, and it’s best to know that going in.
High Point: Letter of Recommendation
Your advisor will drill it into you a thousand times before graduation: make connections! You’re guaranteed to need a letter of recommendation from a prof at one time or another, so office hours are a good opportunity to get to know your professor and make yourself known to them. Isn’t it a thrill when your professor greets you by name in the hall? Maybe your office hours meetings will blossom into a full-fledged prof-mance!
Low Point: Crowds
Especially in the height of prelim season, office hours can get crowded. This makes it harder to get your questions answered, and can also inspire a weird sensation of possessiveness, as if you’re the only student allowed to meet with your prof. Offices generally don’t have a ton of seating either, so look forward to scooching on that single couch to make room for a dozen panicky classmates! And if you’re lucky, the seats will be covered in really loud, slouchy leather!
Office hours are not for the weak of heart, but they’re well worth the cringeworthy moments. Armor up against the awkward, and best of luck to you.