I'm not a fan of going to office hours, in fact, I avoid it whenever possible. Don't get me wrong, I really do love my professors and my classes, however being one on one with someone who, - lets face it, - knows infinitely more than I probably ever will, is so intimidating, so scary, that I've thoroughly avoided it throughout these four years.
However, being so close to the finish line and seeing the relationships some of my friends have built with their favorite professors, I wonder if maybe it would have been a good idea to push myself a little, face my fear, and maybe learn more about my professors than I did by simply sitting in their classes day after day.
Office hours are a job requirement for most, if not all instructors. It's a time for students, especially those in big lecture classes, to go to their professor's office and discuss questions or go more in depth on a certain subject. But it's also a great way to build a relationship with someone who could really help you in the future and from whom you could learn so much more than you expect.
Here is why going to office hours is a great idea:
- Professors like it! Think about it, would you like sitting in your office for hours, alone, expecting students to show up only to be disappointed? Probably not. So, if, like me, you're concerned that you'll be disrupting their busy schedules, don't be! They have to be there anyway, and they would probably rather be useful than sit in an empty office for hours.
- If, for whatever reason, you're shy about participating, or you're part of a big lecture class, office hours are a great way for your professor to get to know you, or at least attach a face to the name, - this is probably why some professors make going to office hours at least once mandatory. You can talk to them there, if you don't want to do it in class, or you can clear up whatever doubts you have about the material.
-Building a relationship with your professors and allowing them to get to know you can help a lot in the future. For one thing it will help them write a good recommendation letter if you ever need it for grad school applications, but it can also be useful when you start searching for jobs, - they will probably have tips and advice to share, or maybe even know of open positions they can recommend you for. The better they know you, the more they can argue your case.
-It can help your grades! Discussing essay topics or an essay thesis before you write it, and getting advice on what to do or not to do, or even recommendations about which books to use, will ensure that your essay is that much stronger. Or, conversely, if you have classes that you don't have to write essays for, going to office hours with specific questions about the material will allow for a much better understanding of the subject, plus, you can even ask questions about things the class doesn't cover and go deeper into the subject than everyone else. Bonus points for knowing more than the person sitting next to you.
P.S., remember you can't show up for no reason, so have a question ready, and be brave!