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The Best Way to Handle "the Office" Hours

posted Sep 5, 2009, 11:26 AM by Danny Eusebio

I don't know what it is about office hours, but no one is usually motivated to go to them. The professor usually offers to hold one hour sessions each week for students. However, no one realizes that Office Hours are not only quintessensial to aiding in your understanding of classroom material, but it's also an opportunity to network with your professors. Today you might say, I don't want to go to graduate school. I've been through too much school already.  Yet when you start to get ready to graduate, you finally realize something. Shit, I think I want to go to graduate school.

That's when you feel like a little child, alone, waiting for someone to pick you up while you wait in the rain.  At that point you wish someone would have told you sooner. "Maybe I should have said hello to my professor a little more or maybe I should have sat in the front more often and asked questions."  But now its too late (sort of). I mean, if you wanted to go to graduate school, you could make it happen. However, the decisions you make now could essentially limit your options.  

Tips at the Office Hour!!!

  1. Don't go alone your first time. Never go to see a professor if you are intimidated or worried. For the most part, all professors are usually easy to talk to (even if they might be the smartest people on campus). However, if you haven't been doing your reading it can be a little nerve wrecking to ask questions.
  2. Always have questions or some subject matter to discuss. Some professors might be really busy even though they dedicate an hour of their time to their students. You want to make sure you can have a conversation continue.
  3. Ask about their research? Ask why they went to graduate school? Tell them I'm kind of interested, but am not sure what I'm really interested in. Professors are understanding people--although they might be very smart too.
  4. Let professors know you care about the course. You should be communicating with them enough to the point that they remember your name. I can't express enough, but professors will usually never extend the olive branch. You have to make some effort and they'll try to meet you half-way. If you ask questions in class and you seem interested in the material, you might be surprised when the professor calls you by name. The funny thing is, you never told him or her what your name was. (It happened to me)


I know I didn't mention anything about your TA's office hours, but their not a bad source to go to as well. However, if you plan on making any headway on your future graduate career, you may want to knock on your professors door more often. You could also consider doing research with your professor if you find that you're interested in what they are doing. Imagine you become good friends with your professor as an undergrad, and when the time comes for you to apply for grad school, they can help. For instance, lets say your applying to  do Physics at Cal Tech. Fortunately, your research professor has a colleague that is a professor at Cal Tech. He or she can use their connection to leverage your entrance into the grad program you are interested in.

If you have any other tips and suggestions for entering the office hours, send us an email at We really appreciate your feedback.