To attend a university is truly a life-changing experience that many do not get to enjoy. Quality education is scarce in many regions of the world. Even in the United States, with its renowned academic institutions, considerably high tuition costs frequently discourage students from pursuing a college degree.
In other words, if you are a current college student, then you are the recipient of the following message: You have found an invaluable opportunity that has the potential to reward you throughout your entire life; seize that opportunity with courage!
Yet an important question arises: What exactly does that look like? Fortunately, there are various ways in which you as a college student can ensure that your education leads to fruition, but perhaps one in particular that many students seem to disregard is office hours.
The classroom is an essential component of college. However, as college students travel further along the road of their academic journey, they eventually reach the astonishing realization that not all knowledge and wisdom come from the classroom. In fact, such moments of external learning can arguably have a far greater impact on the mind than lectures and textbooks.
Where might you find this kind of opportunity? Frankly, you can find it anywhere. Specifically on PLNU’s campus, office hours might be the place you least expect it. However, office hours present students with the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with their professors. Not only is it an opportunity for learning, but also for guidance and personal growth.
Professor Ben Cater, associate dean of Foundational Explorations and director of the honors program, emphasized the influential role that office hours have in shaping college students for success.
“Office hours are an opportunity for mentorship,” said Cater.
According to Cater, office hours allow students to seek guidance from their professors who are likely familiar with their problems, whether they concern academics, career or life in general. Having attended the same university at which he now teaches, he encourages students to make frequent use of office hours, which profoundly impacted him during his undergraduate years.
“My life was changed by spending countless hours in Dr. Wood’s office, as well as sailing with Dr. Kennedy. We discussed issues raised in class, but especially how to be Christ-followers in the academy, as church members, husbands, fathers, and citizens,” Cater said. “I want to bless my students in a similar way.”
In recent years, access to office hours has generally been subject to change due to COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, restrictions swiftly fell upon universities throughout the United States, minimizing the contact between students and faculty alike. Consequently, access to in-person office hours disappeared altogether in many cases. This was, for many college students, an unfortunate reality that easily may have exacerbated isolation, another prevalent issue at the time.
Although technology offered online alternatives to face-to-face meetings (for example, Zoom and Google Meet), neither students nor professors felt that these solutions were sufficient. Although it is possible that they mitigated the effects of isolation to some degree, they ultimately failed to establish the genuine human connection that results from natural interactions.
As campus life has gradually returned to a relatively normal state at PLNU, incoming students have generally enjoyed more freedoms than their upperclassmen counterparts did during the middle of COVID-19. Fortunately, traditional office hours now seem to be returning alongside other significant aspects of college life that all but ceased to exist during the past few years.
College students, arguably among the busiest people in society, must deal with an abundance of challenges as they transition into adulthood and begin to navigate life independently. Relationships, academics and work each present unique problems that occasionally combine, overwhelming students who are merely trying to survive.
It is then especially easy to forget that most professors understand this situation quite well and, perhaps surprisingly, desire to offer support. One might reason that the very existence of office hours is convincing evidence of this. The hierarchical structure of academic institutions may make it difficult to imagine, but, in reality, professors are just as human as their students, and they were once in their same position.
Office hours preserve the humanity in education, enhancing its beauty. Oftentimes, a single conversation is enough to spark this realization.
To learn more about your professors’ office hours, visit their syllabuses on Canvas or reach out to them.
Written By: Luke Spencer