Most college and university employees know that many faculty sit in their offices during weekly office hours without a single undergraduate visitor.
This means that students are squandering an opportunity to do something that could enhance their intellectual and academic experience immeasurably: get to know faculty.
Why does research confirm time and time again that connecting with faculty in a substantive way is so beneficial? Here are a few reasons:
- Before visiting, you read the instructor’s webpage or website and see where they went to college and graduate school and what they focus on in their scholarship. Besides prepping you for the meeting, reading around on the website helps you learn something about the field.
- Talking to faculty about the course material will deepen your understanding and give you a clearer idea of what is important, from their perspective. You can therefore tailor your study time better.
- Consulting with your instructors about paper topics and other written exercises can only improve your writing process.
- Attending office hours signals interest in the course and material.
- Once the faculty member knows your name and has a sense of your engagement, they may call on you in class more often.
- You may also feel more comfortable participating in class discussion, thus deepening your knowledge of the subject and increasing your participation grade.
- Investment in the course topics may inspire you to lead a study group, which will not only enhance your grasp of the material but also look good on your resume.
- Your conversations in office hours may lead you to an unexpected but fascinating paper topic or even guide your choice of major, concentration, minor, programs, certificates, etc.
- You spend four years on campus; they spend a lifetime. They have wisdom and knowledge to share. You are young and are there to learn from them.
- And, in case you need to think of it in even more mercenary terms, if you spend enough time with instructors, you might be able to ask them for a good letter of recommendation down the road, one that will catapult you to the top of the pile of applicants for important internships, fellowships or scholarships.
Availing yourself of faculty time and wisdom is part and parcel of the whole college experience, one that many college students sadly ignore or dismiss. You don’t have to be one of them!