Opinion | Office Hours are Undervalued

Sarah Cosner, Contributing Columnist

In preparation for a test or project, there are a variety of strategies that students employ to receive a good grade. From summarizing notes to completing practice problems and watching concept videos, there are several methods that help give students a greater chance of success.

However, those who prepare can still receive a devastating test or project grade and wonder what went wrong. Even if they construct good notes or complete practice problems, a poor test score may not reflect these efforts. 

There are a variety of reasons why students may perform poorly; they may not fully understand the course material or test expectations or may feel anxious when completing a test.

Attending a professor’s office hours is a great, yet undervalued, method of resolving these issues. As midterms quickly approach at UA, it’s important to remember their value and importance. 

Office hours are a universally good solution to succeeding in your academic career. These meetings allow students to ask questions about course content, learn a professor’s expectations, and review previous assignments to improve upon work. Office hours can be used as a supplement to other methods of test preparation to reinforce material and gain a better understanding.

Attending office hours also helps to establish a relationship between the student and the professor. This is a great opportunity to expand your network, ask professors about their own research, or discover possible internship or job opportunities. 

Going to office hours can also demonstrate one’s commitment to academic success and show their professor that they deeply care about their grades. In certain scenarios, professors may be more willing to round up an individual’s grade because of this.

With these benefits, it seems that all students should want to attend office hours. There is a proven correlation between these smaller interactions and improved student performance in a course, but there are a variety of reasons why students choose to not interact with their professors outside of class.

In an article for the Harvard Gazette, Joe Blitzstein, a Harvard professor of statistics, described how students may feel that they do not have specific questions, do not have the time to attend, or may simply feel intimidated in this one-on-one environment. These obstacles may prevent students from getting the help they need and performing to the best of their abilities.

A student does not need to have questions to attend office hours. Even without specific questions, a student can still improve their understanding of concepts with their instructor during these hours. 

If an instructor’s office hours do not line up with one’s schedule, many instructors have office hours by appointment. They are often flexible with their hours, making it easy for anyone to reach out and schedule a time to meet. 

It may seem daunting at first, but the beneficial aspects of office hours exceed the downsides. Instructors and professors want to see students at their office hours and to invest in their growth. 

Office hours information is required to be listed on all course syllabi. Additionally, it’s important to be prepared on what to discuss during office hours, like concept clarification or specific questions regarding the class. 

If one wants to have a greater chance of success in their academic career, attending office hours is a necessity to ace that next exam or project.