If there's one piece of advice that I wish someone would have given me before I started college, it's that I should have gone to the office hours to meet with my professors more. This seemingly small thing is so important for so many reasons, and not enough students take advantage of it.
As an undergrad, I was the worst student on the planet. I skipped classes (because . . . freedom), I rarely did the required reading, and I didn't attend those office hours that my professors provided until my junior year. And that's when my grades finally got better. But I really didn't witness the true benefit of this until after I became a writing instructor at a university myself.
I always encourage my students to use my office hours. Instead of just putting them on the syllabus and leaving it at that, I actively remind my students that they're there. Why? Because I want to see them flourish academically. It's beneficial to collaborate with students in a more focused, one-on-one way so that they can talk out their ideas and struggles. By meeting away from the classroom and its distractions, they're able to better understand what I'm looking for in an assignment, I can answer any questions they may have been afraid to ask in class, and I get a much better understanding of how I can help them. And this goes for all college instructors, since we all have our own way of doing things. For example, one professor may focus more on the structure of their students' essays while another really emphasizes the research aspect. By utilizing office hours, students really get to hone in on their professor's specific teaching and grading styles.
Another reason to attend office hours is to build your relationship with your professor. They might be more understanding if you have to miss class down the road because they've seen you putting forth the extra effort. Plus, you could very well be creating a relationship that could further your future. For example, they could help you in crafting the perfect resume, getting a quality internship, or even landing that dream job after graduation. If your professor sees you working hard and striving to be your best, then they will go out of their way to help you.
I know that a lot of college professors can be intimidating, but honestly, most of them truly want to help you. And attending office hours can really break down those first impressions. They care about your education and your future. Ask them the tough questions, get help with parts of the syllabus that just aren't clicking, and ask for connections once you form that relationship. It will most definitely be worth it.
Even though I had to learn this lesson the hard way, I'm grateful for it since I can now stress the importance of it to my students. I know it's daunting and can take away from your free time, but it could also make a lasting impact on your college life and career.