Aug. 26, 2021

Office hours: don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your instructors!

One of the big changes that happens between high school and university is how students interact with instructors. For most students, the idea of meeting with an instructor during office hours is completely new. So what are office hours? Office hours are times when you can meet with your instructors and teaching assistants to discuss course materials or other things that interest you.
Student and Instructor

As a former sessional instructor at UCalgary, I always encouraged my students to visit me during regular office hours or book appointments. For me, office hours allow conversations between instructors and learners to happen in a less formal and less stressful setting. I see office hours as an opportunity to get to know my students better and to improve my teaching. I always reflected on the questions students asked, treating them as feedback, and adjusted course design accordingly. In my own experience, my colleagues were eager to welcome students to their office hours. 

While you may be unsure how office hours can help you, office hours can be very helpful in many ways. For example, conversations with instructors can help answer questions you might have, develop research interests, and shape career prospects down the road. You may also secure strong references from instructors if they get the chance to know you outside the classroom. 

Believe it or not, you don’t need a question to go to office hours. You can just drop by to say hi! And bear in mind that there’re no stupid questions, every question is sufficiently important. 

Below I list some dos and don’ts that I usually told my students: 

  • Do get prepared. Study textbooks and lecture notes before you go. 
  • Do stay patient. Wait outside the office when the instructor is busy interacting with another student. 
  • Do be calm and honest. Explain your situation honestly and clearly if you want deadline adjustment.  
  • Do consider the many other resources that are also available to you such as study groups and the PASS program. 
  • Don't procrastinate. Avoid waiting until the day before an exam or the day before an assignment is due to seek help. 
  • Don’t attack. Never use office hours to criticize or attack your instructors.  

Now it’s time to visit your instructors!