Why Go to Office Hours?

Academic Success

Instructors have many students and, in some large schools, may never know all their names.  Make yourself stand out by meeting with your professor about the class.  This will:

help you feel more comfortable in the course.  Your professor may seem serious and intimidating, but if you get to know them one on one, you may discover they’re actually quite kind or funny.

help you figure out what the professor expects from you.  Some professors expect you to write your papers one way, but another prefers a different way.  Do they prefer close readings of texts or tons of analysis?  What do they envision your work looking like?  In class, they may not say because they expect students to know already or perhaps to intuit what they want.  If you meet with them, you can clarify expectations, down to how long they think your weekly discussion post should be and whether it should be researched or a personal reflection.

help you figure out what the professor wants.  This is slightly different from the point above.  Maybe one instructor is concerned with issues of gender and sexuality, but this other professor thinks that’s all a new fad.  It may sound cynical, but if you figure out the types of papers your professor wants to read, you may be able to boost your grade.  Or you can decide to be daring and offer an opposing viewpoint.  Most professors will respect and, indeed, welcome differing perspectives as they challenge the class and make it more interesting.  And most can access the merits of an argument fairly even if they disagree with it.

potentially help your grade.  When grade time rolls around, an instructor you met with may remember the extra effort you put into the course.  No instructor will unfairly boost your grade, but if they see you’re a fraction of a point away from the next letter grade, they might just bump you up to reflect the work you put in.

help the professor get to know you.  One day you may need a recommendation letter for a job or for grad school.  Part of a professor’s job is to write these letters for students, but, if they don’t remember who you are, they can’t write you a good letter.   If they agree to write you one at all, based on the fact that they remember you did get an “A” in their course, it might end up being a really generic letter.  Make sure a few professors know your name and your chances of getting a good recommendation letter go up.

Krysta 64


13 thoughts on “Why Go to Office Hours?

  1. Briana says:

    Just putting in my two cents again! I do see “Go to office hours; it will help your grade” advice a lot on the Internet. I think there is a hazy gray area of “effort” and going to office hours can help make your effort more visible. It will make it clear to the professor that you revised your paper four times before handing it in, which they might never know otherwise. However, I think for “going to office hours” to help you grade-wise, you need to go consistently with specific questions about how to improve your work. Showing up once or even twice might not be particularly memorable to the instructor, depending on how many students they’re teaching and how many tend to show up at office hours. (Again, that’s if you’re seeking “effort” points. Going to office hours once might legitimately help your grade if it helps you figure out how to do a specific type of math problem or something.)


    • Krysta says:

      All very true. Going to office hours will likely not give you a sort of magical boost on the grade scale. However, consistently demonstrating effort can only be beneficial, whether, as you note, it’s because you actually learn something in office hours or because the professor can now see you tried to revise–even if it might not look like it when you hand in the finished paper.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Krysta says:

          That’s true. I guess I assumed when I said you have to demonstrate effort, that meant consistent effort, not a five-minute “Hey, professor” visit at the beginning of the semester.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. TeacherofYA says:

    I lived at some of my teachers’ office hours. I had a little trouble with linguistics, but my prof helped me with assignments and quiz prep whenever I showed up. I think it shows you are a dedicated student when you attend.
    Thank you for the post!


  3. Ali (@thebandarblog) says:

    I did a year of organic chemistry during the summer session (WORST SUMMER EVER: Hey lets cram 30 weeks of organic into 10! YAY!) and struggled so hardcore with that class. I went to EVERY SINGLE office hour session that professor had and at the end of the second session when I should have gotten a B+ he bumped me up to an A- because of all my effort and I basically cried (because I was trying to get into vet school and essentially needed straight A’s to do it). I LOVE office hours and 100% agree with all of your points there – it’s a great way to get to know the professor and for the prof to get to know you (:


    • Krysta says:

      I think professors often do like to reward effort because otherwise it can make students feel like there’s no point in spending hundreds of hours studying if they never seem to get anywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kimmie.gg says:

    I’ve heard that office hours are the most important/helpful thing! Though I never enjoy approaching teachers, that’ll have to be a skill I work on in order to be more successful in college. I love this series and am definitely taking your advice to heart 🙂


    • Krysta says:

      I think it helps to remember that you aren’t bothering your instructors when going to office hours. In fact, they have to be there, so they’re probably wishing someone would actually show up so it doesn’t feel like they’re sitting in their office every week for no reason! You will make their job feel worthwhile when you walk in the door. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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