Everyone wants to start it off on the right foot, earn good grades, and find happiness in and outside of the classroom. Although it’s mid September, it’s not too late. One of the most sure-fired ways to improve your semester inside the classroom is to visit your professor’s office hours. However, since this is something new for many college students, they don’t always know how to capitalize on their office hours and make it worth their time.
Here are four tips to help you be more confident when meeting with your professors and leave feeling like you’ve grown as a student and are more prepared for the semester at hand.
Research your professor’s background
No matter where you go to school or what your professor teaches, it is quite easy to find their background. Most schools will have staff pages where you can read a brief biography of them and perhaps even a curriculum vitae where their education, experience, and publication history will be featured. While you should always learn about your professor before taking their class, it is even more critical that you do your research before you meet with them one-on-one. Where did they get their degree? Is their alma mater the same institution they are teaching at? Are they from a small town or an urban area? Have they done research or writing in any particular fields you’re interested in? Doing this research will allow you to have organic, meaningful conversations that don’t just center on the classwork at hand.
Do your readings and bring questions
While this is of course applicable to all classes, make sure you did all of the reading before you go to your professor with further questions. It’s incredibly possible that your question was answered in the readings. If so, your professor may realize you’re not doing your work if you ask them a question that was answered on page three of the reading. However, you should feel free to ask clarifying questions about the readings or topics discussed in class. Don’t ask anything you can simply Google, like what year was this published, or did he write any other books? Take advantage of your professor’s knowledge and expertise in a subject.