Office hours are of course invaluable for students to ensure that they understand the material covered in class, but they can also lead to the development of important relationships between professors and students. Photo thru Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons
Professors’ office hours are meant to help students improve their academic skill by granting a medium to talk to faculty outside of a large group. Through direct conversations between professors and students, both receive a way to know each other on a personal level. However, some see it as a chore rather than an opportunity to visit their teachers for a private session. With office hours as a mandatory policy for faculty, students need to know why it is important for them to attend.
What makes office hours special is that they create lasting connections with students and staff. Faculty can provide advice about life following college, which guides their pupils towards careers they may not have initially considered.
Additionally, one of the best resources available to youths preparing to work in a field is interacting with professionals who are already active within that profession. By being here at UMBC, scholars are given a way to learn more about those currently working within their major through the facility. Senior ancient studies major Irene Nolan commented, “I ended up getting advice that was outside of what they were teaching … lots of good advice about graduate school.”
Visiting staff around campus can also allow the campus community to form bonds that they may not have otherwise. Students attending office hours do not need to sign up for that professor’s class, so the time can be used to discuss matters such as the professor’s research and personal interests. Through these relationships, the perceived barrier among students and faculty on campus begins to disappear, which can ease students’ stress when it comes to talking to their own teachers.
As much as it benefits the student body, having individual sessions also can help staff by being a means of knowing their class on a personal level and each student’s individual struggles. According to Professor Mitzi Mabe, an English professor, having individuals willing to attend her sessions has assisted her in being able to adapt within the classroom. Additionally, it is a platform to work with her class to create different learning strategies that assist them in grasping the material.
Mabe commented, “When one student reports a concern … I can re-tailor what I’m doing in class to help other students … students can clarify something that couldn’t possibly be addressed in just the little bit of time immediately following class.”
Office hours are set by professors, but not mandatory for students to attend. Students’ attendance is encouraged, but if they cannot go to a particular session due to other obligations sometimes professors will extend their hours if emailed or contacted directly. As mentors, faculty want to assist their students in success, and are given the best way to aid them outside of class through individual sessions.
Students should get to know both their teachers and other faculty members because it can aid in creating unity here at UMBC. Overall, office hours are a necessary aid for those in need of extra guidance, but this extends beyond academics. Staff can enlighten students about a world of possibilities both on and off the UMBC campus and guide them towards their future.