The Power of Office Hours

The last week of August 2019. In my pre-UVic anxiety-ridden state, I stressfully searched through Pinterest for “University tips and hacks” hoping to find the key that would grant me success in the weeks to come.

Among the cheap textbook websites and beautiful notes that I would never be able to match, one of the tricks that kept popping up on my page had to do with office hours. As if the post was letting me in on a secret, they all said that visiting your instructor during office hours pretty much guarantees you a better grade in their class. 

How hard could it be? In the summer months leading up to the school year, I told myself I would be at office hours the first week to show my professors and TAs that I’m a good student and that I cared about doing well in their classes. 

That was an extremely unrealistic expectation. In my first weeks of University, it took me days just to figure out where and when to eat lunch, let alone the buildings where my classes were. There was no way I had the time (or energy really) to find their offices in what was probably another unfamiliar building across campus. 

Once I had failed my first mission, I thought I wouldn’t be able to start going to office hours a couple of weeks into the semester. Would I look lazy for not going from the start? Needy? A bad student? 

I was none of those things. 

I finished a rough draft of my first paper at least a month into the semester. I had never done MLA citation before, so I decided to take it to my professor to have them take a look at it. I didn’t have any specific questions in mind about my assignment when I walked into their office, which I quickly realized and began to panic. But as I sat down, and they noticed the piece of paper I was holding, they immediately took it and began to read through it. My professor marked up my paper, telling me areas to improve, elaborate, cut, and give clarity. 

I didn’t even have to say a word. I got free proof-reading from the person who would eventually mark my paper all because I took 10 minutes out of my day to be brave and utilize the office hours that are there for us anyways. 

Instructors are busy, and not all of them will have time to read through all your work, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If I had handed in my paper in its original state, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the eventual A. 

One of my biggest hacks to University that I’ve learned as a first-year student isn’t really a hack at all. Office hours! I wanted to push myself to earn the best grades that I could, and I am absolutely confident that office hours helped me do that. 

Next time you start a new class, don’t ignore the fine print at the top of your syllabus telling you when the instructor’s office hours are. Mark them on a sticky note, and put them somewhere you remember. 

When you get your grades back, you’ll thank yourself.

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