Office Hours are the posted days and times a professor can be expected to be in his/her office available to students. This is a job requirement for all instructors. In effect, students pay for those hours and, therefore, should feel free to use them. However this is not a social open house. Most professors expect that students who show up for those hours have specific questions or concerns related to the class they are taking. If the conversation becomes more casual over time, great. But the purpose of office hours is to give busy students access to busy teachers.

Big lecture classes where TAs teach discussion sections present more options. It is not feasible for the professor to handle meetings with 300 students,
but TAs are usually responsible for two sections of 25 students each and have more time to offer. So if you are having trouble with the work and need further help, maybe more detailed explanations, go to the TA’s hours first. Their job, in part, is to help students with the lecture material. If you find that you need more time and personal attention, think about looking into your school’s tutoringprogram. It’s usually free, and you can probably schedule weekly appointments.


Professors and TAs have time limitations and other students waiting to see them, so the more prepared you are when you go to an office hour, the more you will get done. Here are some suggestions:

1. Begin any appointment prepared with a pen and paper, ready to take notes. Always, always, ALWAYS take notes. Students worry that they are being rude, but, remember, this is not a social occasion. There is no way you can remember everything (or even anything) from these meetings. This means there will be periods of silence while you are writing things down. That’s OK. You are not there to be entertaining. You are there to get help with your work.