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The Do’s and Don’ts of Office Hours

Hey, HCers! Whether you have one semester or four years left of your college experience, office hours are vital to enhancing your academics and establishing significant professor-student relations. As a freshman—or fresh-woman as I like to call it—the best pieces of college advice have emphasized the value of the latter. What better way to do achieve this than speak face to face with my professors? I gave it a try for my writing course, but BU’s seasoned hour-goers contributed to my knowledge as well. If you aren’t quite sure how to approach office hours, check out my comprehensive etiquette guide below!

– DO: come with questions. You probably had a reason to attend office hours in the first place. If you have a question in class, write it down for later. For science or math classes, circle problems that you need assistance in solving or understanding. Bring questions and circled probems to office hours for reference.
– DO: email your professor in advance, if possible. This tactic could come in handy in a case of an assignment emergency, such as deleting a writing file, addressing a test-alternative for learning disabilities, or encountering a family emergency in which you miss a few lectures. Let your professor know of the issue and when you would like to attend office hours to catch up.
– DO: arrive on time and know your professor’s schedule. My writing professor’s usual office hours are 1:30 to 2:30 pm. The day I planned on showing up, I told her, “I’ll be coming to your office hours” and she informed me that she had a meeting until two. It is important knowing the availability of your professor day by day. They have busy lives, too! Also, you’ll be ahead of the game if you keep track of each professor’s office hours on a calendar or phone application.
– DO: establish a rapport with your professor. A great relationship outside of class will surely score you future recommendations in addition to invaluable academic and career advice. Caution, though: this rapport requires more than one meeting! Stop by to say “hi” every once in a while.

– DON’T just show up without trying to solve the problem. Refer to textbook examples and online examples before referring to your professor. Depending on the problem’s difficulty, these resources may save you a trip down Beacon Street.
– DON’T address your professor by the wrong name or title. In regards to his or her name: save the embarrassment and make a good impression by accurately addressing him or her. Titles: While some are lax, others may be very stringent about using “Doctor ” so-and-so. They didn’t get that Doctorate in Philosophy for nothing! However, if you honestly cannot remember his or her title, “Professor” should suffice.
– DON’T be afraid to stray from a tangential topic. One question can provoke an enlightening conversation. This conversation could close the gap between a random student and a familiar face. Like I said before, it is really all about making a good impression.
– DON’T assume that multiple visitors will hinder your ability to ask a question. Ask your professor if he or she will permit a group discussion in his or her office hours. If he or she allows it, seize the opportunity to bounce ideas off your classmates in discourse. I have heard that this is a very beneficial experience (from a valid upperclassman source!).
– DON’T show off your A$$-ets (Cue Big Sean). You should present yourself in an appropriate manner. Professors may not appreciate advertising during their precious office hours. If you wear respectful clothing, the professor will reciprocate with an open mind.

I wish you luck as you embark on your office hour adventure. Take into consideration each point of interest from the etiquette guide, and you will impress your professors, classmates, and—most importantly—yourself!


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