Keepin’ It Breezy in Office Hours

24 Oct

Authoritative figures have always intimidated me. As a child, I never spoke to my teachers. I didn’t even want to look them in the eye. My biggest fear was, and still is, that others would think I was incompetent if I didn’t immediately understand what I was being taught. Since I saw my teachers as experts who probably had very little patience, the thought of them knowing that I didn’t fully understand the material terrified me.

Once I started college, my peer mentor always pushed me to go to office hours. She talked about how helpful they could be, because it was a one-on-one conversation with my professor that was rare to find during class sessions. Little did she know that this was the last thing I wanted to do.



Throughout my entire freshman year, guess how many times I went to office hours? Here’s a hint: the answer is zero. (I’ll just say this early on: Do NOT make the same mistake I did. Okay now back to my story…) Even when I had questions about an exam or I didn’t fully understand the material, I avoided office hours at all costs.


Finally, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I decided it was time that I tried going to office hours, whether I liked it or not. I hadn’t done as well as I would have liked on a first exam and I was concerned about my grade in the class. Not entirely sure of what I was asking, I gathered up my courage and made my way to his office.

When he saw me arrive, he told me to take a seat and asked what I had questions or concerns about. My response? “Stuff.” He asked what I had questions about and of all the words in my vocabulary, I replied with stuff?! I was sure he already thought I was stupid… but he didn’t. He could see that I was clearly nervous and helped me find the right questions that I couldn’t think of myself.


He asked how I thought I was doing in the class, which brought up my concerns about my last exam. He gave me tips on how to study for his class, which parts of the text to pay the most attention, and the types of answers he wanted to see for his essay questions. He even gave me a hint on what would be on the next exam. He answered questions that I didn’t even know I had!


Even better, I could see that my professors weren’t scary, intimidating people. They were, well, just people! I realized that professors are here to help us. They won’t think of less of us. In fact, they’ll think more of us for reaching out when we need help. Self-advocacy is great thing, people!

One of my greatest regrets of freshman year is letting my nervousness stop me from speaking to my professors. As I’ve continued to go to office hours, I’ve learned that going in to talk with our instructors is a great academic resource and, once you continue to open up to them, a great life resource. I’ve had the best laughs and have been given the greatest advice in those offices. So, my message to you: If you’re nervous about office hours, it’s okay! You might feel awkward or embarrassed in the beginning, but eventually you’ll feel comfortable and find out that our professors are pretty awesome.


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