In this ongoing advice column, former UGS students who have transferred into their new major help current students navigate major exploration, the internal transfer process, and more.
Dear UGS Liaison,
I haven’t been to office hours yet. I know I should go, but I don’t have any questions. Is that okay? What are some topics you’ve talked about with your professors?
During my first two semesters of college, I was terrified of going to office hours. Anxious thoughts took over my mind: “What do I even ask?” “How can I possibly ask about the material if I think I have a handle on it?” “I waited too long. I should have introduced myself at the start of the semester.” “What if they don’t like me?” “I haven’t declared a major yet; I can’t possibly get involved with research they’re doing.” You get the idea.
Friends would tell me that they simply went to office hours, introduced themselves, and chatted with their professors. I could not possibly imagine breaking the intimidating wall between student and professor. Then, during my sophomore year, one of my close friends in an intro class told me she was visiting our professor’s office hours later and that I should go with her. I tried declining several times, but she insisted, “He’s the best professor I have ever known, and he loves to get to know students. He’ll all but force you to have some tea and cookies while you’re there!” She had me at “cookies.” I figured it couldn’t be that bad, and I was already going to be on campus with some downtime so, anxiety aside, I went with her – and she was right!
After breaking the ice that first time, I realized that going to office hours is not scary at all. Usually you are the only one to show up. In my experience the professor is always inclusive and incredibly friendly. I didn’t have any questions prepared or anything to say that first time, but, you can really go and chat with professors. They are interested in getting to know their students and seeing that you have an interest in their classes. And once you know them personally, it makes asking about grades or assignments and emailing them that much easier. You also don’t need to be locked into a major to ask about assisting professors with their research—they love help, just ask! The worst they can do is say, “I don’t need any more help this semester.”
Going to office hours is how I’ve acquired a graduate student mentor, a professor to read and oversee my senior thesis, assisted with research, and accepted an internship. Build and maintain those relationships while you’re in college. Don’t be worried—put those nagging thoughts aside and just go!
Best of luck,
Dear UGS Liaison is an ongoing advice column in which we publish select responses from our liaisons. Do you have a question for a UGS Liaison? Email a liaison for a personal response.