Written by Amy Wang (PEACE Advisor)
I know, I know. It’s been said a billion times, and it’ll be said a billion times more. Even your tour guide when you were a visiting high school senior probably told you to make sure to utilize office hours. But it really cannot be emphasized enough. First of all, going to UC Berkeley means having the privilege of being taught by amazing, world-class professors. Not only does this mean getting a top-notch education in the classroom, but it also means that your professors have so much knowledge and wisdom to share with you outside the classroom. And just because you might not have questions on the course material does not mean there’s nothing to talk to your professors about. Maybe you want to understand the topics you’re covering in class in greater detail. Maybe you’re looking for career advice in a field related to their profession. Maybe you read a super interesting news article that reminded you of what you learned in class and you want to hear your professor’s opinion on it. Whatever it may be - as long as it’s relevant and professional - don’t be shy!
But why go to office hours? Why should students even bother getting to know their professors? I mean, if you understand the course material, isn’t that good enough? Well, that’s up to you to decide. What I can tell you is that getting to know your professors is a very valuable experience for several major reasons. First of all, it’s a big motivator to stay on top of the material. After all, you don’t want your professor to ask you something about last week’s lecture and have absolutely no clue what he or she is referring to. Secondly, it’s important for professional and academic reasons. Grad schools, scholarships, and many summer programs ask for letters of recommendation from your professors. If you don’t get to know your professors, your professors won’t have the opportunity to get to know you. And that doesn’t sound like a good situation to be in when you need a professor to vouch for your qualifications. Lastly, and most importantly, I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at how fun and enjoyable it is to chat with your professors. College is about creating meaningful connections with the people around you, and when you’re in an academic environment, that definitely includes your professors. So take that extra time to go to office hours. Perhaps you’ll even form mentorships and friendships that last beyond your college years.