Two days ago, I found myself hiding in a washroom on campus, nervous and shaky. I reviewed my notes on my tablet, mouthing what I was going to say wordlessly, frantically. I was counting down time.
Oh look! A notification from Draw Something. Okay, quickly. Let’s guess — What is that?! Is that a tree or a hill? A hill? SCORE.
Is he there yet? Why did I even tell him I was going to visit him after class? Why, self, why? Oh a tweet~
And I step out. The hallway outside was partially lit. It made the grey linoleum strip impossible long. The sound of my sandals clicking with every step unnerved me so I quickly made my way to my destination. I turned the corner, neck straining so I can see where I needed to go.
And then there was light. “Hi Professor,” I squeaked. He turned around, got out of his chair and welcomed me into his sunlit office.
“Hello! Good to see you. Come, sit down,” he replied. Breathless, I stuttered through my reason for the visit, and stumbled some more over the thoughts and notes I had prepared before hand. I’m not quite sure I remember what we actually talked about for the next 20 minutes, really, but I walked out of there feeling much better.
I’m coming clean here – I’m going into my fourth year (eek!), and I can count on my one hand the number of times I’ve visited my professors’ office hours. It’s scary! If there’s anything I want to avoid, it’s looking dumb. This is despite (or in spite of) what professors say about no question ever being a dumb question. Look, if you can find someone who’s completely comfortable visiting a prof’s office hours, even for the first time, then the sky is most definitely not blue.
University is about stepping outside your comfort zone. Of course, one of the biggest steps us students have to take is the step towards our professor’s office hours. It took me a less than satisfying tutorial and about 4 days of venting to my family and friends (and my boss, for that matter) about it for me to get the guts to visit my professor during his office hours. For me, the reason I spent so long stewing over it was because the course I am taking is beyond what I know. I’m not in that program, so I really don’t know what I’m talking about.
In hindsight, that’s a pretty stupid reason to not go to office hours. If anything it’s all the more reason to say hi to professor and talk about what you don’t know, even if it’s a distribution – wait, you guys call it breadth now, right?- course in a program you’re not actually in. For one thing, it’s not worth jeopardizing your marks. For another, professors want you to visit. They need you. Have you seen this PSA? Those poor professors.
I know it’s hard to work up the courage to visit your professor – trust the girl who’s been avoiding it for over three years. At the end of the day, though, you might find yourself a valuable mentor and friend. Even if your prof doesn’t guide you to your life-changing moment, your marks will definitely benefit from the visit.
I want to give you a challenge, U of T. I dare you -no – triple chocolate fudge sundae infinity times infinity dare you to visit a professor once a month. Is that doable? I think so.
Brave people who do go to office hours, what are some of the most interesting things you’ve ever done while there? Share your stories!
3 comments on “One Step”
Once, after sitting silently in the back of a 100 person class for an entire semester, the professor stopped me on my way out the door on the last day of class and said, “I’ve never heard you speak up, but I bet you have something to say. Come to my office hours tomorrow.” And I did.
After an amazing 3 hour conversation, I left his office with a copy of a book that he had given me that would change the entire way I approach my academic discipline, and he remains a mentor to me, to this day.
Not all experiences will be like this – I was put off attending office hours when a first year computer science course always had lineups out the door for help during these precious hours. However, once in awhile you come across a kindred spirit or a new idea that makes it totally worth your time.
That’s amazing! I’m so glad you found your mentor this way.
Every week I feel gonna die when I meet my proffesor in week meeting time. My english is bad and sometimes he don’t understand what i’m talking about. I feel bad. Feel like i’m kind of disturbing-student. :'(