One of the things you hear the most coming into college is how much harder than high school it will be. I am almost done with my first semester and I can safely say, (unfortunately or fortunately, haha) that it is true.
Now, the difficulty is not so much the content, obviously it gets harder, but what makes it so much different from high school is the amount of independence you are given. Independence is one of those things that everyone wants but not everyone is willing to deal with. It's hard realizing that you are responsible for yourself and for your college experience; not the teachers, not your parents but you and only you. That might seem a little overwhelming, but it is actually liberating; it means that the tools to succeed are always in your hands, you just have to know how to use them.
One of these tools that sometimes is overlooked is Office Hours. Office Hours are time slots, usually once or twice a week, that lecturers and teaching assistants hold for the sole purpose of talking to students and clarifying their doubts. Many people feel insecure about attending office hours, or feel that they won’t really help, but that is a big mistake.
My hardest class this semester was definitely physics; it took me a while to decide to seek out for help with my doubts. I took the first midterm without attending my lecturer’s office hours and afterwards I saw that if only I had clarified one thing that was tripping me up, I could have gotten a better grade.
UMN Physics and Nanotechnology Building
When it got close to the next midterm, I decided to attend my professor's office hours. I showed up to his office with my physics book in hand and a list of problems I still hadn’t figured out and I didn’t really know what to expect. What happened after really surprised me: the professor invited us into his office (there were three of us there) and asked us with what we were struggling. Surprisingly, most people had difficulty with the same problems I had, and the teacher was able to clarify and walk us through the problems step by step, which made a huge difference.
On the next physics midterm, I did better and it was largely due to the fact that I attended office hours and asked for help. The University offers students numerous resources to help them succeed, all they have to do is ask for help.
So show up to office hours, introduce yourself to the professor, show him or her problems you have difficulty with or maybe just ask them about their research and what they’re working on because professors love seeing students that are engaged and actively seeking out guidance. Be proactive! Get out there and make the most of the resources the University has to offer!