Office Hours – GradPlan

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Office Hours

The best kept secret to passing the class

What are Office Hours?

We bet you’ve seen it on the top of every syllabus you’ve received “Office Hours,” but what is it? Office Hours is an optional time – usually once-a-week – that professors set aside in order to meet with students one-on-one. The time and day will vary based on the professor and the class, so check that syllabus for the specific details.

Why meet with your professor?

Going to office hours is a way for you to build a personal connection with your professor. Depending on your class size, you may not have many chances to interact with your professor. Office hours are a great opportunity to give a face to your name. This can come in handy when looking for a recommendation, an internship, or for help with assignments. If you need examples, consider the following scenarios and questions to connect with your professors about:

Class and Assignments

  • “What steps can I take to be successful in this class?”
  • “I would love some extra help or guidance on what we discuss in class this week?”
  • “I want to do well on the upcoming test, can you give me any additional support to make this happen?”
  • “I am struggling with this concept. Can you help me with it, please?”

Career Exploration

  • “I like class and the work, what careers can I explore with this interest?”
  • “How is your experience as a professor? What was your career journey like?”
  • “Are there any clubs I can join, or books I can start reading to deepen my knowledge of the subject?”
  • “Can you be my mentor or write a recommendation on my behalf?”

Personal Experiences

  • “I am sick, grieving, or going through a traumatic experience, can I have accommodations or be excused from class this week?”

How does it work? Do I just show up?

Check your syllabus to see what the procedures are for scheduling office hours. Some professors may require you to book a slot for their office hours in advance; others may have an open door policy where you can just walk in any time during their scheduled hours. If you are still unsure how to attend office hours, ask your professor in class or send them an email.

Last thought on office hours:

Office hours are a student-led space so remain calm and prep. Before going in to meet with your professor, write out what you want to talk about. Be ready to lead the conversation whether it is about what topics you are struggling with or an introduction to yourself and your career aspirations (or even your learning style).

And remember, professors are people too. So be yourself and have a good conversation.

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"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist