Why You Should’ve Started Going to Office Hours, Like, Yesterday

One of the major pieces of advice I’ve received as a high school graduate was to visit college office hours. But in reality, I never took advantage until my senior year of college. I felt, as a freshman, that I’d mastered the concepts by attending lecture and didn’t see why I needed to spend more time at school when I didn’t need to. I occasionally went to office hours during my second and third years , but never made it a regular habit.

After reflecting on my time in college, I thought about how my experiences in past classes would have been different if I took advantage of this resource. I fell into the habit of attending office hours this school year. I noticed a profound difference with my understanding of the material and class grades. Here are some reasons to go to office hours:

Even though you may seem to understand the material from the lectures, it’s helpful to have a deeper understanding of assignments and projects. I found it helpful going to my math classes’ office hours, receiving guidance on how to do projects. Since homework was graded for accuracy, it was helpful to see whether I answered the questions correctly. I can confidently say that attending office hours contributed toward my A in the class.

Oftentimes when you’re faced with a hard class, it’s easy to accept defeat. I gave up doing work for operating systems, one of the hardest computer science classes and forgot I had office hours as a resource. I started going to office hours just a few weeks ago. We have intensive projects and quizzes in the class, so it very helpful to get feedback. I plan to continue my habit.

Office hours also allow you to connect with a professor in a one-on-one setting. This can be useful when looking for research opportunities or a recommendation. I wanted to get a recommendation letter from one of my math professors. I had her for Calculus I, II and III. I thought she’d be familiar with me as a student since I’d had her classes for so long. But when I went to ask her, she said the letter wouldn’t be good since she didn’t really know me. I was a little shocked at first, but I understood where she was coming from. Calculus classes have hundreds of students. There was no way she’d notice me just from my grades.

If you want to establish a habit going to office hours, first look through the syllabus or on Canvas for the professor’s or TA’s office hours. Make a chart and hang it by your study desk or put it somewhere for reference. Take note where you get stuck during assignments or while studying. Look at the schedule for the next available office hour, and make plans to go. Going to office hours may seem tedious. It can have tremendous benefits in the long run not only for doing well in school, but also having a person to go to for help and opportunities in college.