Talking to Professors

Sometimes students feel intimidated about talking to their professors or asking for help. Every professor and instructor at UGA holds office hours, and these are listed on your syllabus for the class. Professors are here to teach and mentor students. They use office hours for many reasons such as to answer questions about course material, help students with problems, provide grade information, offer major and career advice, and discuss research. The best students make use of office hours regularly.

Here are a few tips for talking with your professors:

  • Identify yourself and the class that you’re taking from the professor.
  • If your question is quick, you might be able to ask it right after class, but be aware that the professor may have an immediate commitment. Ask if they prefer that you come to office hours instead. For longer questions or other issues, office hours are a must.
  • Go to office hours with prepared questions. Vague questions are not likely to get you the assistance you need. Think about what you understand, and where your understanding breaks down, and formulate your questions from there. Make sure you’re prepared to take notes. If you’re asking for help with a paper, bring the most recent draft with you.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute! The sooner you seek help for a problem, the more likely the professor will be able to give you the time and assistance you need.
  • Arrive during the time set aside for office hours. If you have a schedule conflict, email the professor, explain the conflict and ask if there is an alternative time you can meet.
  • Sometimes students have issues of a more personal nature that interfere with success in a class, such as a disability or a family, financial or personal crisis. Know that professors are human and empathic, and may be willing to work with you on extensions and incompletes if necessary, but they can only help if you share the information with them. They will also likely refer you to any units on campus that can assist you with your problem.
  • Most professors are very invested in their subject matter and their students’ success. They want to meet and talk with you. After all, teaching and research are their life’s work. Approach them with a genuine interest in their discipline and concern for your success in the class and you will almost certainly find an ally.
    
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