Never Fear, Teachers are Here to Help!

28 Oct

One of the biggest worries coming into college is the transition from high school teachers to college professors. In high school, you likely had classes with under 40 people, so you probably knew the teacher fairly well. At the very least, you felt comfortable approaching them if you ever had questions or concerns with the class. In a college lecture, though, your class could be upwards of 250 people and you may feel like your professor doesn’t know you exist, much less feel comfortable approaching them individually. That’s why it’s understandable that it’s so intimidating going to a professor if you need help in a class. Everyone knows that there are office hours specifically for students to approach their professors with questions or issues, but so many people are too afraid to ever utilize this resource.

Rarely, and I mean very rarely, you might get a professor who seems disinterested, unwilling to help, or like they don’t care one way or another about their class and students. Let me repeat, this is RARE. The large majority of your professors really care about you and want to help you succeed in their class. Most people get into teaching because they love their subject and want to help other people love it and succeed. Plus, if you do well, it looks good on them. In my experience, going to a professor’s office hours is one of the most valuable things that you can do.


If you’re struggling in a class, office hours are one of the best ways you can get help. Chances are, your professor is the one writing your test or grading your papers and assignments, so they know exactly what you’ll need to know and what they’re looking for. They’re the only people who know if what you’re writing is what they want or if you’re studying the correct material for the test. They can also take more time to explain the material, explain it in a different way, or answer questions more in depth, something that they can’t do in a big class. In my personal experience, going to office hours has always helped me to understand the information I was struggling with in class. If I went in for help on a specific assignment rather than just content based questions, my teachers have always helped me to know what they were expecting and sometimes told me information they were looking for when grading an assignment that I wouldn’t have known to include otherwise.

Besides the fact that they can help in whatever class you’re currently taking, building relationships with professors outside of class is one of the smartest things you can do for your future. If you know your professor outside of class, even if it’s just from their office hours, they’ll be so much more willing and able to write you letters of recommendation, give you research opportunities or help in future classes. Building a relationship could even potentially help with graduate school or finding a career after graduation, especially if the professor is in the field you want to be in. Sometimes it’s worth it to go to office hours build that relationship with your professor even if you don’t have content-related questions.

My advice would be to grab a friend or even just a random person you sit next to in class and go check out a professor’s office hours. Yes, it will initially be intimidating. But once you get past that initial fear, chances are you’ll be glad you went. Not only will you get the help you need, but you’ll also build a valuable professional relationship that could benefit you more than you know in the future. If office hours are still too intimidating, just take the first step and go talk to your professor after class. Work your way up to office hours and you’ll end up thanking yourself later.


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