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Why Should I Go to Office Hours If I Understand the Material?

Many students think of office hours as a fall-back: a time to talk to their instructors when they are having trouble in the class. As one student recommended: "Visit your professor in their office hours if you're confused... I was unsure and [the instructor] just sat down--and she explained it and then I got it and it was much easier than beating your head against the wall trying to figure it out yourself. [My professor] was really friendly and willing to help me."

Office hours can serve other, equally important, purposes. Visiting an instructor’s office, for example, can help clarify your professor’s general aims for a course, something that can come in handy in preparing future assignments or studying for upcoming exams. Office hours also provide a good opportunity for you to get to know your instructor better and for your instructor to become familiar with your background and skills. One student reported, "I do go to [office hours]. That's the best tip I can give. Even if I don't have questions -- I don't harass them -- but I go and I say hi."

Sometimes work or family obligations prevent you from going to an instructor’s office hours unless you are in urgent need of help. Most professors will arrange to meet with you at another time, if you can’t make their scheduled office hours. Also, staying after class, or coming early, to ask for clarification or to inquire about the broader implications of a topic may be equally effective.

On a campus the size of CSUN, it can be difficult to get to know your instructors, especially in large classes. That is one very good reason to meet with your professor outside of class.

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