Tips for Attending Office Hours

You are in the right place if you want to:

  1. Find out when LALS instructors and TAs hold their office hours. (If you're looking for LALS Advising appointment times, check our advising drop-in hours or Slug Success schedule here.)
  2. Learn about office hours: when and why to go and what to expect once you're there.
  3. Watch a funny 2-minute video about attending instructor office hours (it's at the bottom of this page!)

When to go to office hours:

Look for updated office hours for the current quarter in our LALS faculty directory or graduate student directory. If your instructor is not a regular LALS faculty member or grad student, you may need to search their name in the campus directory to find their directory information. You may attend office hours any (and every) time they are held. You may also ask for an appointment outside of regular office hours if you have a schedule conflict or if the instructor office hours are listed as by appointment.

"By appointment" office hours:

If the office hours time listed is "by appointment," send the professor an email that begins "Dear Professor ______" and includes the reason you want to meet and the times you are available to meet during regular business hours, generally between 8am and 5pm weekdays. Be sure to end your email with your full name and student ID number, as you should with any email sent to faculty and staff at UCSC.

Why go to office hours?

Are you not sure if you should attend office hours? Here are some of the reasons students go to office hours:

  1. To clarify instructor lectures or assigned work in the class. Students often feel embarrassed to go to office hours when they are confused, but this is exactly when you should go!
  2. To ask more about a topic of interest that came up during lecture. Instructors may recommend additional reading or just engage you in a discussion of a mutual area of interest.
  3. To see if you are on the right track with a paper or assignment, or to get ideas for sources. Are you having writer's block? Or wondering if you chose the right topic? Why not see an expert?
  4. To request a letter of recommendation. Choose an instructor you've had for at least one course, who can speak knowledgably about your academic strengths. Be prepared to provide organized information regarding your request, and ask at least 4-6 weeks before the due date. Read more about references and letters of recommentation.
  5. To make sure you have instructors to ask for letters of recommendation. See above--you are laying the groundwork for future requests!

Try not to be intimidated by the students in the class and at office hours who seem to know everything, who often have an insightful comment, or an existing relationship with the instructor. They may have taken another course with the same instructor, or in the same field, or maybe they are going to office hours every week!

Fear of office hours is so common, Arizona State University made this funny video to encourage students to meet with their instructors.