Professor Office Hours: Dos And Don’ts

The transition from discussion-based small classes in high school to lecture halls and microphones at UCLA can be a jarring change. Luckily, professors set aside times for office hours so that you can meet with them individually to discuss class material, ask questions or just get to know them better. Going to office hours and meeting with your professor - someone with a Ph.D., a long list of accomplishments and several publications - can seem intimidating and daunting. Before you barge into your professor’s office, make sure you know what you should and shouldn’t do!

DO: Come With Questions

If there is class content that you’re feeling iffy about, going to office hours is a great way to clarify any questions that you may have. Going to class in a lecture hall with hundreds of other peers can make you feel so alone. But don’t forget that your professors have set aside times for office hours to help you. If you have questions, don’t just stick it out with Google; come to office hours!

DON’T: Make Excuses

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Don’t run to your professor with excuses about why you couldn’t make it to class. Very few professors actually take attendance, so your absence most likely didn’t make as big of an impact as you thought it did. Instead of trying to convince your professor that the reason for your absence was valid, do something to make up the missing work instead.

DO: Make Up Your Work

You should not give your professor excuses for unexcused absences or for missing assignments like, “My printer broke” or the classic, “My dog ate my homework” even as valid as those reasons may be. If you really did have to miss class or are missing an assignment, you should speak to your professor about how you can make it up. Even if you’re not able to get the points for the assignment back, you should at least show your professor that you care about your progress in the class and can make up the work through the next assignment.

DON’T: Feel Like A Pest

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Yeah, your professor has one long CV, elaborate research projects, other students and a Wikipedia page, but as a student and an attendee of their office hours, you should not feel like you are annoying! You might feel like you are wasting your professor’s valuable time with silly questions, but your professor will most likely admire your ambition and diligence.

DO: Feel Comfortable

Going to office hours can be an incredible learning opportunity for you. Not only can you get clarification about course material, you can also learn more about your professor’s career and how they got started. Feel comfortable asking your professor about their research projects or about how they got their career started. Who knows? Maybe your professor can inspire you to pursue similar paths!

DON’T: Negotiate Grades

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In many of our classes, every point counts. It might seem compelling to ask your professor why you missed half a point on a certain question, or ask for a tiny little grade bump from a B+ to an A-. But keep in mind that for many large, lecture-based classes, it is often your TA that does the grading, not the professor. While you should feel comfortable asking your professor about the answer to a certain question or clarifying course material, don’t attempt to negotiate grades with your professor.

DO: Go To Office Hours

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As college students, it is important that we form lasting connections and relationships with people. Going to office hours can be an important step in building a professional relationship with someone who has lots of experience and knowledge to share. So go to office hours ~ it will seriously benefit you.