The maddening thing about my capstone project!!

The due date is creeping closer for the capstone project meaning that I’m closer and closer to seeing it being completely finished. (It doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of work to do on it though.)

For my project, I’m interviewing 16 students about their college experience either from being a first generation college student (first in their family to go to college) viewpoint or a continuing generation student standpoint. For the most part, these questions have been similar throughout to make the comparison between these two groups easier. The questions have garnered insight to what it’s like being a college student at the University of Michigan.

One question and concept has puzzled me as I transcribed the interviews: the lack of students going to office hours.

This isn’t an issue unique to first generation college students because many continuing gens have said the same thing. This is outside the scope of my project in finding out why that is, but this idea utterly confuses me because I’ve visited office hours throughout my years. It’s not that I go every week, but I’ve found myself visiting them at least once a semester for help.

Thoughts on Office Hours

Part of the reason I’m surprised is because professors serve as great writers of recommendation letters and since many people have aspirations of going to graduate school, I thought this would be an incentive for them to go talk to them. Most of all, professors are here to help, but nobody seems to be taking advantage of this. Some people have responded with the fact that they don’t need help, so they don’t feel the need to go. But, besides getting help professors have deep pockets of knowledge especially as we get further into our courses of study. Most professors are in academia (which not a lot of students want to do), but some have made the transition from the workplace to academia, so they have valuable insights about what actual jobs will be like in that field. It seems that for most upperclassmen, they know their professors better, but some have quoted that it’s a “weak spot” for them. Something that they’re still not really “good” at. I agree with this thought because sometimes I’ll be sitting in their offices and I don’t know what the heck I should say to them… Then there is the excuse of  “I don’t have time.” It seems like we need to make students realize that office hours is worthwhile.

What now?

To a freshman in a huge lecture hall, professors can seem intimidating, so how do we remove this stigma? I know I’ve gone to my GSI (graduate student instructor) and not the actual professor because they seem more approachable. I think the university needs to work on making professors and teachers more approachable for ALL students. While this wasn’t the direct goal of my project, I think it’s something that will benefit the entire student body and something I will mention in my final thoughts section of my project.

Go to office hours. Your professors are people too!

Melody Ng

Melody is currently a senior studying business.

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