Visiting office hours can be a great strategy for success in the classes you’re taking. This page provides a brief overview of office hours—answering questions like what, why, and how—to help you get better acquainted with this resource. It also provides information on how office hours might vary when offered remotely.

How Do Remote Office Hours Work?

Each instructor may have a different approach to holding remote office hours. They may be available via phone, Zoom, Canvas chat, or another program. Some instructors may have specific days and times each week when they’re available, while other instructors may only hold office hours by appointment. Be sure to check your course syllabus or Canvas site early in the term to identify how office hours will be held for your course. Ask your instructor if you’re not sure when office hours are or how to access them.

Why Office Hours?

Office hours are specific hours that instructors set aside for students to come to their office; ask questions; and get clarification on assignments, exams, or other course-related topics. As instructors are in the best position to answer your questions, office hours are a great resource for you to stay on track in the course. You can also visit office hours to introduce yourself to your instructor and become familiar with them.  Developing relationships with instructors can be beneficial, as you have the opportunity to learn from your instructor and create a connection that could assist you later in your OSU career.

Who has office hours?

Typically, those involved in the instruction of the course will hold office hours. The people who hold office hours are generally listed on your syllabus, and they vary depending on the course.  Common people who hold office hours include

  • Professors
  • Instructors
  • Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs)

When are office hours held?

The day(s) and time(s) for office hours are usually listed on your course syllabus. If office hours are not listed, be sure to ask your instructor if they have office hours or if they are available by appointment if you email in advance.  If their original office hours conflict with your schedule, most instructors are open to meeting outside of office hours by appointment.  When emailing to request an appointment outside of office hours, be sure to offer a range of days and times you would be available to meet. Instructors may have busy schedules and need options to find a time that works for both of you.

Go to office hours prepared!

It’s a good idea to come prepared to office hours. Preparing for office hours can help you get the most out of your conversation and may boost your confidence before visiting. Here are a few suggestions for preparation:

  • Decide why you want to visit office hours.  Do you want to introduce yourself to the instructor and get to know them? Are you struggling with the course in general? Are you having a specific problem or need clarification on an assignment?  Do you want to ask about a recent or upcoming exam? 
  • Based on your reasons for going to office hours, come up with clear and specific questions/comments that you would like to discuss with your instructor. Write these questions or comments down prior to attending office hours.
  • Don't assume the instructor understands the issue you are having without giving them enough information. Provide context so that the instructor can understand what feedback or assistance you need. 
  • Be sure that you have access to any appropriate course materials during your office hours visit. The instructor may not always have this material right in front of them, so your preparation is important if you have questions about specific information like a part of the reading or homework problem.

Develop a positive relationship!

Developing professional and positive relationships with instructors is part of your education.  Be aware of how you are communicating to establish these relationships. Keep these tips in mind to have a successful conversation:

  • Work to develop goodwill and rapport with the instructor. Plan to approach your conversation with a positive outlook and willingness to work together.  
  • Ask questions and make requests politely. If you would like to discuss an exam, for instance, saying "I am not sure I fully understood this section of the exam. Could you help me understand what you meant in this question?" will be more effective than saying "Your exam was confusing," or "I don't like my grade."
  • Keep in mind your instructor is a person too. Take time to get to know them. Your conversations are a good opportunity to make OSU connections and will help you better understand your instructor and their approach to the course.

Office hours are a great way to take advantage of the resources available to you as a student.  Attending office hours can provide you with information you need to succeed in the course as well as information the instructor needs to improve the course for future students. Interested in this information in a differen format? Check out our infograph and our Office Hours packet below.