This will be my last term as an undergrad and if there’s one thing I could change about my time here at SFU, it would be how many office hours I went to. Attending office hours can help you have a deeper engagement with learning and the university community as a whole, here’s why I think they're an integral part of a student’s university career.
Have you ever found a professor to be engaging, thought-provoking, stimulating but also a bit… intimidating? The most common reason I’ve found among students that keeps them from office hours is the feeling that they’re not on the same intellectual level as their professors. Well, the truth is, you’re likely not, but that’s to be expected! Your professors have, 20, 30, or even 40 plus years of age on you. That’s, for many of us, two to three times the number of years we have lived. Of course you’re professors are going to dwarf you, intellectually. That’s why they’re teaching you. Don’t look at their big brain as something to be afraid of. Look at their intellect as something to be appreciated and ultimately learned from. Be like a toddler. Very young children are rarely concerned with revealing just how little they know to older people. Instead, they are amazed at how much information older people know and constantly ask questions to experience the joy that is learning. Learning, itself, is also made easier by office hours.
Before I begin my next point, I’d like to ask you a question. Would you rather learn from a living breathing person, or from a book? If you answered the former then office hours become even more important for you. Learning, in a nutshell, is the transfer of ideas from one person to another. Often times this works both ways with the student learning from the teacher and vice versa. Office hours are a student’s golden time to engage in the essence of learning. No other people will be present to steal the point you’re about to make. No barrage of notes you must write down. During office hours, it’s just you and your prof engaging with each other and learning from each other. This is something that a lecture hall of 500 students can never truly provide; the basic human contact that is integral to learning. I’ve found that office hours enrich my learning experience by simply being nearer to my professor. The quiet space of an office allows me to pay more attention to subtle details such as their tones of voice when they speak about a subject, or brief anecdotes they may wish to share with you. It’s this sort of human connection that makes learning so much easier and more enjoyable. Instead of having to memorize textbooks, you start to associate knowledge with the professor. This association of knowledge allows for a vastly improved depth of learning as you are able to associate knowledge with the experience of going to office hours and having brief, but rich interactions with your professor.
Try these office hour tips out and see if learning becomes both easier and deeper for you. It did for me.