Cash Me at Office Hours, Howbow Dah?

Written by Grace Brang



As a final-semester senior, I have tasked myself with making sure I leave the University of Minnesota without any regrets - easy, right? Not so much. However, it doesn’t have to be too difficult. I’m not setting any grade-oriented expectations for myself outside the realm of passing all of my classes, because let’s be honest, who looks back on college and says “Wow, I cannot believe I didn’t get an A on that one statistics midterm during my sophomore life is feeling really incomplete because of that.” Maybe some people say that, who knows. I don’t really anticipate myself being one to kick myself years after college over any specific exams, or even final grades. On the other hand, I think I will be genuinely disappointed if I don’t take advantage, to the best of my ability, of all the great things the U has to offer. I’m talking about the Rec, the glorious UPass, Yoga at WAM, career services, free/reduced-price Gopher sports events, and, last but not least, OFFICE HOURS.


You might have thought this was going to be a heartfelt post containing a senior’s advice to underclassmen about all the things you’ll miss about the U, how college goes by so fast, etc. Those are definitely good reads, but this is not one of those. This blog exists solely to advocate on behalf of office hours. Why? Because they are literally so amazing and, for some reason, I only really started taking advantage of them this semester and to be honest, that’s kinda got me cryin’ in da club.





The Beginning

I did not begin my college career with the intention of avoiding office hours at all costs. Right when I started classes my freshman year, I was bombarded with advice from upperclassmen - and attending office hours was a common recommendation. Upon hearing it so many times from so many different people I was like, “Wow, office hours seem to be all the rage! I gotta check them out ASAP.” I attended my first few classes and jotted down any questions I had on the material that I didn’t care to ask in class. I looked up each respective professor’s office hours, and when the first office hours opportunity came around, I seized it. I arrived at the professor’s office shortly after the office hours began, because obviously I had to arrive fashionably late for this event, and I approached the door. Stay tuned, because this is where things went south.





The Panic

To my dismay, someone was already in the professor’s relatively small office. How dare they? I thought to myself. It is the first week of classes. What in the world could they possibly have questions on? Wait...what do I even have questions on? Lemme look at my questions again. *feverishly opens up notebook with questions prepared* What the heck am I even asking here? This is a dumb question. I know, I know, there is no such thing as a dumb question...but this one really takes the cake. *scratches out question* Wait, what is this question? I can’t even read my writing. *scratches out next question* Are you kidding me? Google this, do not waste the professor’s time. *scratches out next question* Before I knew it, I ran out of questions to ask as I continued to eavesdrop on the professor and the brave student that had gone before me. I was a wreck! I had no questions prepared, and by the sound of the conversation going on, I was eons behind this student. After questioning if I was at the right professor’s office hours, hoping I had made a mistake and there would be a less intimidating setting I could scurry to and ask my sub-par questions in, but realizing that indeed it was my professor, I left.





The Aftermath

This experience left me scared to attend office hours again. Irrational? Yes. Uncommon? NO. After speaking with many people since then about office hours, I realized that I was certainly not alone in never wanting to go back to office hours after being intimidated the first time. There were times that I simply had to face my fears and attend office hours, usually after performing poorly on an exam and needing to redeem myself, but I always dreaded going and sometimes got legitimately anxious over the whole ordeal. However, with my new mindset of taking advantage of as many University resources as possible and always wanting to face some fears, I turned things around for myself at the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester.





The Transformation

While I certainly was not excited about trying my luck with office hours again, I knew it was something that I needed to do in order to feel like I had made good use out of as many resources as I could during my time at the U. So, just as I did my freshman year, I prepared for my first session of office hours and showed up fashionably late. After finding a seat right next to the TA, I knew there was no turning back. Before I could get up and run away, she turned to me and asked me what I needed help on. All of a sudden, she was helping me with a tough statistics problem that I could have never gotten on my own. Wow, this is great… I actually understand this problem that I just would have Google’d if I were doing it on my own…. Maybe I should ask her for help on this other one I don’t really know how to do? A wild idea, I know. Long story short, I was there for an hour just working on my homework with her! I saved so much time working through it in office hours, and I actually understood it better! I thought surely all office hours weren’t as successful - but let me tell you what, I have gone to office hours regularly for almost ALL of my classes now, and they have consistently been awesome!





The Reflection

The hype surrounding office hours is REAL. Not only will you understand your material better, but you will get closer to your professor/TA - and in case you don’t care about that, you should, because who do you think determines your final grade? If professors see you putting in effort continuously throughout the semester, they are going to be so much more likely to help you out during critical times (midterms, finals, etc.). Aside from help with the class, professors and TA’s are great people to get to know. Ever plan on applying for a job that requires a letter of recommendation or going to grad school? These people are prime candidates for recommendation letter-writing. They have seen you undertake an entirely new subject, work with others, communicate, and prove your knowledge on tests or projects - those are all super important qualities for the real world, people!


After doing some reflecting, I think I was so nervous at the beginning because I, probably like many of my peers, don’t always feel comfortable asking for help, and I don’t want to risk sounding stupid in front of my classmates/professors/TA’s. Well, newsflash: at least one of your classmates probably has the same question, and faculty members have this job for a reason! They want to help students learn. No professors teaches a class with the mentality that their students will already know all of the material - that would be silly! People will obviously have questions and they want to be there to answer them. Even if you don’t have specific questions, still go and get to know them. There’s a chance that, after college, you won’t have such easy access to such great minds, so don’t waste this opportunity.


It just makes sense - why lament over your extremely difficult assignment when you could go to office hours and get some help? Then you’ll expose yourself to the great side effects of office hours, too! For example, you could work on homework with other members from your class while the professor/TA is busy with another student - yay new friends! Who knows, maybe even a newfound study group could come out of that, too. Honestly, the positive repercussions of office hours are endless, so don’t repeat my mistake and wait to realize that until your last semester.