Alright. So if you’re like me, you think you are totally, 100% capable of doing well on your own. You don’t need any help and even if you do need help, you actually don’t because you won’t ask for it. My academic performance so far has been fair. Some classes better than others, but overall pretty good. Those pretty good grades hardly reflect the amount of work I put in, the stress, the tears (oh yes, the tears), the time in the library, and years taken off of my life due to the immense anxiety I was facing. I knew I was missing something, so I begrudgingly went to an academic counselor and asked for some help.
The answer was simple: go to office hours. Now, I know they may seem scary, but they really, truly aren’t. I decided to go because I needed to boost my grades and really grasp the material that was being presented as I learned it, not the “go to class and sort of get it in hopes I would somehow magically understand it some day hopefully before the test” logic I was going by before. I can honestly say, I can already see what a HUGE difference they are making for me.
There are two types of office hours: the ones held by your professor and the ones held by their teaching assistants. In my experience, I have found they are both useful for separate things.
Your professor’s office hours are usually empty because students are scared to go. I was at least. But, As I started going, I realized this time was useful to go over lecture notes, review in-class problems, ask about past homeworks or quizzes, and really get in-depth answers and explanations. Furthermore, I am usually the only one there, so I can stop him at any moment and ask for clarification. This is essential to my understanding of the otherwise difficult course material.
The teaching assistant’s office hours are useful in the sense that they help with current homework, review for exams, give previous test problems, and support what the professor has already discussed.
By the time the first test came around, I went to a bunch of office hours, and had felt really prepared in half the time, stress, and misery I usually endured when studying for tests. I know that for the rest of my college career, I will be attending office hours, and you really should too. Not only do they make you learn the information more effectively, but they make you look good in the eyes of you professor!