4 Reasons to Visit Your Professors in Office Hours

By Marina Krivonossova on November 2, 2020

“Don’t forget to visit my office hours, Tuesdays and Thursdays at three!” We’ve all witnessed a professor shout similar words at their students, most of whom had already tuned out everything as they were preparing to rush off to their next class. Office hours in college are so underrated, as students rarely see the value in spending extra time with their professors outside of designated class time. And I can’t blame them — I started off college with the same mindset.

The idea of spending more time on campus when I could instead be finishing up homework in my apartment, hanging out with friends, or making money at work really didn’t appeal to me. But many experiences throughout my college career showed me that I really should have started taking advantage of office hours as early as possible. Even though I can’t undo my past mistakes, I can share with you the importance of going to your professors’ office hours. That extra hour every few weeks can make a world of a difference for your future.

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1. References. When you’re applying for jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities — you name it — you’re bound to get asked to provide some references. Your references should be people who know you well enough to vouch for you in a professional setting. And what better people to cite as references than the professors you had in college? These individuals watched your growth from the start of the semester to the end. They saw how hard you worked, how much effort you put in, and what topics you were passionate about. But the thing is, until you get to know them in office hours, you’re just another student — a face in the crowd. The best thing you can do for yourself is start visiting your professors during office hours to share with them your background, your goals, your aspirations, and what makes you unique. When a professor knows a student’s story and sees that the student is more than just a nameless face in the lecture hall, they’re bound to be willing to attest to the fact that they’re a worthwhile candidate for the opportunity they’re applying for.

2. Reference letters. How many people know you well enough and care enough about your success to be willing to write you an entire letter of reference? References require much more effort than just responding to an employer’s phone call and saying “Yep, this person is super qualified to do the job!” They require sitting down, thinking, and dedicating themselves to writing an entire letter about what distinguishes you from the rest. If you take your time to get to know a professor during office hours and allow them to get to know you, you’ll be doing your future self a favor by giving yourself another qualified person to ask for a reference letter.

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3. Networking. When you’re an 18-year old entering college, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is networking opportunities for your postgrad career. Even lower on that list of things you’re thinking about is probably how you can network with your professors. Here’s the thing: all your professors have PhD degrees. That means they spent time on several degrees before getting to where they are today. They also likely did these degrees at more than one institution, potentially in different states, even possibly in different countries. Your professors have likely studied and researched with some incredibly successful people. They know the in’s and out’s of the academia-oriented world, as well as the professional world. If you take the time to truly engage with your professors during office hours, the likelihood of them being able to connect you with a worthwhile person in your field of interest is quite good. Whether this person helps you find a job, serves as your future mentor, or connects you to another helpful individual, you will have found yourself benefitting from office hours yet again.

4. Career guidance. Perhaps you’re still trying to figure out what to do with your life upon graduating. Maybe you’re curious about a career path, but you’re not sure if it would be right for you. If you’re troubled by these thoughts or similar ones, you should most certainly take advantage of office hours for career guidance. As previously mentioned, professors have a lot of experience. They’re the perfect people to consult if you’re interested in learning more about their field in general, or about specific careers in that field. Although they opted for the teaching route, many professors came into academia from other work. Some professors might have colleagues from school who pursued the same field of interest but opted for a different career route. Your professors can share these insights and more with you during office hours — all you have to do is express some interest.

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5. An interesting conversation. Office hours don’t have to be exclusively about getting some sort of personal benefit from the interaction with your professor (although there’s nothing wrong with utilizing office hours for the aforementioned reasons either). Office hours could be the perfect time to get to know a person who’s lived an interesting life, both before and during their time as a professor. I once had a professor who coincidentally spent a lot of time in my country of interest for studying abroad. She shared a lot of exciting stories with me from her time there, thus reassuring me that I wasn’t making the wrong choice by going abroad. I had another professor who spent summers volunteering in different parts of the world and meeting his wife through one such trip. Professors are people just like us, and you’ll be missing out on some amazing stories if you don’t chat with them during office hours.

I hope that if you were skeptical about the benefits of going to office hours, this article managed to provide you with a new perspective. And I hope that if you were curious about visiting a professor during office hours, this article inspired you to finally make it happen!

By Marina Krivonossova

Uloop Writer
Now that she has completed her undergraduate degree at UC Irvine and graduate degree at Leiden University, Marina is spending her time working in corporate communications and marketing. She has an educational background in business, economics, teaching, and politics. Her passions include creative writing, experimenting with new baking recipes, and traveling the world.

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