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5 Ways to Prep for Office Hours

5 Ways to Prep for Office Hours

Office hours are an extremely valuable resource, not only for direct course support but also for building relationships with your professors and TAs, further solidifying your place in the UBC community. In your first year, attending may seem intimidating. With so many questions, so much course content and limited time, how can you know what to ask? AMS tutoring has a few suggestions on how to prepare and get the most out of your office hours visit.  

Read the Syllabus and Attend Lectures

At first, the course syllabus might seem much too long and somewhat pointless to read, but many of the questions you might are likely answered in the syllabus. Any questions about assignments, due dates, supplemental materials, schedules, etc. are usually clarified by the course syllabus, so reading it can save time for both you and your professor or TA during office hours. In addition, while attending lectures may seem obvious, it can become quite easy to start slipping on attendance, especially during the second term when burnout begins to catch up on you. To avoid confusion, try to attend as regularly as possible since, given limited time for office hours, many professors may be reluctant to answer questions already covered in the lectures. 

Review Course Material in Advance

Before you attend office hours, review your notes, lecture slides, assignment questions and other relevant course materials. Make sure you can identify exactly what you understand and where the gaps in your knowledge are. In doing this, it’ll be much easier for you to know exactly what you need out of your time in office hours as well as what you might need less support with and, in turn, it will be easier for your professor or TA to know how to support you best. This will help you make the most of your time during the office hours and ensure that you are well-prepared to discuss specific topics. 

Compile a List of Questions

After you review material, make sure to make a list of specific questions or topics you’d like to discuss during office hours. This not only helps you stay focused but also ensures that you cover all the points you are unsure about. Organize your questions in a logical order so that the discussion flows smoothly. Something that might be helpful is to print off or write down the questions, so that you have your own copy to refer to and a physical copy to give your professor or TA so they can also refer to it while they assist you.  

Collect and Bring Relevant Materials

Bring any relevant materials, such as textbooks, course notes, or specific example questions, that may aid in helping identify your confusion and properly explain the concepts. Having these resources on hand can help both you and the professor better understand the context of your specific questions and facilitate a more productive discussion. If you are asking questions about a specific exam or assignment, and if you have access to it beforehand, make sure to bring it to the office hours session you are attending with the questions you need clarification on highlighted so they can be easily referred to.  

Use Office Hours for More than Just Course Support

If you need support with grad school, getting involved in research labs, learning about other research opportunities or receiving referrals to other UBC supports and services, many professors and TAs will be more than happy to assist you. Of course, make sure to ask your professor or TA beforehand if they have time to answer questions like these, as some may want to prioritize course support, especially during busy times like midterm or finals season. But, if they agree, office hours can be a great resource for helping to navigate your undergraduate degree. These types of questions can be especially useful in building great relationships with your professors and the broader UBC community.  

Remember, office hours are not only for seeking course help but also for connecting you to more members of your UBC community. Use these tips to help prepare yourself properly and get the most out of your time, making the experience as beneficial to you as possible as well as smoother for your professors and TAs. AMS tutoring will additionally be there for support beyond allotted office hour times, so always know that if you are stuck, you have numerous options to help get you through. 

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