BE Smart has been running a #30DayChallenge initiative to help college students set the tone for success during the first month of the semester.
The first post discussed the need for familiarizing yourself with your campus library and bookstore; the second, for maintaining your mental health and making good use of your campus health center.
This third post examines the need for knowing your professors’ office hours.
Asking for Help
Asking for help is difficult for a lot of young people, perhaps because it’s so unfamiliar to them. In high school, people may have breezed through their classes, but college is much more demanding. Some don’t even know where to begin. They may be thinking, “I don’t need help—I need to get out of here.”
But, you can get help. I spoke with Professor Douglas Davis, an associate professor of Communication Design at New York City College of Technology, and adjunct associate professor in the Branding and Integrated Communications program at City College, to find out more about professors’ office hours.
“If there are areas you need clarification in from class, office hours are the place to get one-on-one reinforcement, so you don’t fall behind,” Davis says. “Overall, this is about building a professional relationship with someone, who will be your peer in the industry when you graduate.” Davis continues, “Asking for help, clarifying questions, is also about building a rapport now that will serve as the basis of any future recommendation letters.”
Davis makes an excellent point. Asking for help can help you in two ways; with understanding the coursework, and with developing a relationship with your professor.
Best Practices for Office Hours
As with almost anything, preparation is key. Davis says that professors have more students than available office hours, so come prepared with questions. (If you’re already feeling totally lost, you should probably visit the tutoring center, where you can sign up for more intensive help.)
“It is important to clarify any questions or concerns about the expectations of the class from the syllabus within the first week,” Davis says. “Therefore, be sure to read it and prepare your questions, before walking into a meeting during office hours. Organize your thoughts. Take some time [to] think about what questions you could ask, that the syllabus doesn’t answer.”
Douglas Davis is a graduate of Hampton University, Pratt Institute, and NYU. His new book, Creative Strategy and the Business of Design, explores the words behind the pictures in advertising and design work. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the CUNY system.