The first year of college can be daunting. A new school means an entirely new environment: new friends, new living situation, and most of all – new classes. It’s a lot of “new” in a short period of time, and one of the most difficult aspects to get adjusted to is the heightened level of difficulty in class.
Many college classes are difficult by design. The more challenging aspect of this is the fact that the resources for help aren’t as apparent in college. In high school, teachers seemed more approachable. If the content in class was hard, you could always ask to meet with them outside of class or ask a friend for help.
It may seem as if these opportunities aren’t there in college, but they are! One of the best, most underutilized resources is office hours. Office hours are regularly scheduled times each week where students can come in and meet with their professor or teaching assistant to ask questions and better understand the material.
While some teachers have very well attended office hours, many offices lie empty all semester until right before a big test or final. That is not the time to go to office hours and try to cram. Instead, take advantage of this great opportunity to better comprehend the material and build a relationship with your professors and teaching assistants. Here are the three biggest benefits of attending office hours.
- Actually understanding the material
A lot of times students have trouble navigating the dense nature of certain subjects. It gets even worse when the material is somewhat dry, and it’s hard to pay attention the entire time in class. This is further compounded when students leave the textbook reading to the last minute, and then struggle to understand the building block concepts, which makes the more sophisticated topics even harder to learn.
One way to fix this and dramatically improve understanding is by visiting your professor. Most likely, the professor is an expert in his or her field and has a wealth of experience helping individuals learn the material. Sometimes, they even wrote the textbook! There is no better person to help you learn tough, dense material than one of the leading experts in the world!
- Build a relationship with your professor
Most professors went into teaching in college because they love interacting with students and providing guidance and mentorship. If their office hours are usually empty, this means that you have the chance to build an even stronger relationship with the professor. They aren’t just experts in their field, a lot of them have experience in a wide array of industries and can offer great advice on school and life in general. They are a tremendous resource to connect with outside of just classroom topics. This is the underrated aspect of office hours.
- Leniency with grades
Professors are human too. While office hours aren’t going to move you from a C to an A, without actually improving your test scores, it can give you the little boost if you are on the border between two grades. If the teacher is familiar with you and understands all of the effort you are putting in on a daily basis, then they will reward you if you are in between marks.
Remember, office hours are a hidden gem of college and can be the boost you need to get acclimated and excel in a new place! Best of luck in your finals preparation!
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.