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Campus Overload
Posted at 12:41 PM ET, 08/19/2011

#College101: Take advantage of office hours


Today’s guest blogger is Carol Zuegner, an associate professor of journalism at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Zuegner works with Creighton's Ratio Studiorum Program, an introduction to academic life for first-year students. And she loves it when students visit her office hours.

One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll get as a first-year student is to visit a professor during his/her office hours. I know what you’re thinking: Really? Don’t I already have to see that professor a few hours a week?

Yes, really. Getting to know your professor outside of class isn’t just brown-nosing. It’s a good way to find help, advice and interesting conversation. The relationship can pay off in grad school recommendations and job references.

 First, remember that most professors like students. And they like talking to students outside class. Start small: Choose one professor to try out this office hour visit. Professors usually post office hours on the syllabus. You also can make an appointment.

 Once you find your way to the professor’s office, what do you talk about?  For these first visits be prepared. You can ask questions about something you don’t understand. You can get advice on the best way to study for a test or the topic for the paper you have to write. You can talk over problems you’re having with the material. You can ask questions about something in class that interests you.

 When you get to the office, introduce yourself. Depending on the class size, the professor might know you, but it doesn’t hurt to say your name again and your class.  Don’t think your visit has to be long; 10 or 15 minutes is fine.

 If you make a few of these visits during your first semester, it’s easier to talk to your professor when there’s a problem or you need help.

 The benefits of building these relationships outside of class are many, but the best reason is that getting to know your professors can make your college experience richer and more meaningful.

Every day in August, Campus Overload will feature a 300-word-or-less essay centered around one piece of #College101 advice for the Class of 2015. To participate, e-mail Jenna at johnsonj@washpost.com

By Carol Zuegner  |  12:41 PM ET, 08/19/2011

 
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