One of the best things about going to the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the fact that even though the campus is so big, it’s very easy to make it feel small when you need to. The size of the university gives students a wide array of events, activities, and more, but sometimes there are moments when you want it to feel more personal. I know for me, this was apparent during the classes that were in lecture halls with over 200 students! The best tool that some underclass students don’t utilize enough are office hours. Here are some tips and information all about going!
The Professor and TA’s want to help!
When I first came to UMass Amherst, I struggled in a couple of my classes because I was not used to the college workload. Going to office hours would’ve helped me better understand the course material, but for some reason I didn’t go. Reflecting back, I realized that I thought I would be a nuisance or inconvenience to the professor or teaching assistant (TA). In reality, this is the complete opposite. Professors and TA’s are more than happy to assist any student that visits them, that’s why office hours exist in the first place! In fact, I have a couple of friends that are TA’s for classes, and they regularly tell me that they prefer it when students come and ask for help, rather than them sitting there and doing nothing. It’s important to take initiative and understand that office hours is made to help students!
Every single time I went to office hours, I would make sure I genuinely put in the effort for the homework, project, or classwork that I needed to complete. If I was still having trouble, I would try to solve the problems in different ways, and if the issues persisted — I went to office hours. Doing this makes office hours a lot more beneficial, and efficient, for the student and the course instructor. Having a foundational understanding of what you plan to ask and talk about before getting help is tremendously more helpful that going in blind. On top of this, it shows your instructors that you actually put in the effort.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
There might be an occurrence when the office hours provided by the professor or TA's don’t align with your schedule. This could be because you have another class, sports, or work. Regardless, sometimes you’re just unlucky; this has happened to me on more than one occasion. However, just because you have a conflicting schedule with the set office hours doesn’t mean you can’t communicate and set your own. TA's and professors are very approachable and understanding when it comes to students’ schedules. I have emailed them explaining my situation and asked if there was an opportunity to meet some other time. Every single time, the instructor was more than helpful to coordinate a different time just so I could get the help I needed. Communicating with your teachers is important, and you can set your own office hours if the ones for the class don’t work for you.
Altogether, attending office hours is one of the best tools to use at UMass Amherst when you are trying to strengthen your academic potential. It’s vital you take initiative, are prepared, and communicate with your professors and peers in order to have a successful experience when going to office hours!