Skip to main content

What the Heck are “Office Hours?”

By Professor Philip P. Kelly, Ph.D, Dept. of Curriculum, Instruction & Foundational Studies College of Education

One of the things that perplexes students are their professors’ office hours. Because of their uncertainty, students often visualize their professor sitting behind a big impressive desk or in a lab thinking big, important thoughts … and any visit by them is an interruption to be tolerated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trust me — I’m writing this at my small desk, with my office door open, listening to hallway banter. The first thing your students must know is that professors are actual people. We eat, sleep, watch TV and use the restroom just like everybody else. While professors love our individual disciplines, we are also people and enjoy getting to know our students. Office hours are a great way for your students to get to know their professors – especially at Boise State.

Office hours are times set aside specifically for professors to meet with their students. They are times that we hold open specifically for this important purpose. Consequently, a student’s visit is not an interruption at all, but what we want to be doing. Unfortunately, many students avoid using office hours or wait until they are in such a crisis that they see no other path than to meet with their professor.

As a professor who started at Boise State in the last century (1998), let me give you some advice to pass on to your student(s):

  1. Go to office hours EARLY in the semester – in the first two weeks. This helps to establish a relationship. Especially in large lecture classes, it’s important to be known by the professor.
  2. Go to office hours when you find a particular topic interesting, have a question, or don’t quite understand the content. Doing so demonstrates to the professor that you are genuinely interested in the topic. This, in turn, may lead to opportunities to work with the professor in the future or possible assistantships/fellowships/scholarships.
  3. Establish a relationship with the professor early in the the semester so if you do fall behind or do poorly on major assignments, they will already know you and be better able to help you.

In conclusion, encourage them to come visit us! The professors at Boise State are committed to the success of our students. If we actually know your student, we can help them better. Students are always welcome to swing by my office, EDUC 213, to talk about schooling, Star Trek or baseball – hopefully the latter two.