College is an awesome place to meet people who will support both your academic success and personal development. In this vein, professor student relationships can be some of the most fulfilling relationships made during college years, and office hours are the perfect time to get to know your teachers one on one.
Professors are not just on campus to teach classes—they are there to help you learn. Getting to know the teachers in your department can be one of the driving factors of success at college. It is easy to develop a passion on your own, but having others around who support that passion, who care about your success, and who have resources to assist you with achieving your goals can really take your college experience to the next level.
Going to a professor’s office hours for the first time can be nerve-wracking. However, once you have decided to do it, there is a good chance that your teacher will appreciate the gesture and open up to you about his or her academic interests, as well as what led to caring about these issues (one of my professors was a spy during the Cold War before he came into teaching!). Because of my personal relationship with teachers in the political science department at college, I found out about my great fondness for cartography. One of my professors was a geographic information specialist in Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit, and was called by the National Guard to fly over the city and map evacuation routes for residents who were stranded. Because of him, I learned how important geography can be in saving lives during natural disasters, and have actively continued to use the skills, information, and compassion that he taught me inside and outside the classroom for the last five years.
Professor student relationships often last long after college has ended, and can be instrumental if you have interest in continuing your education. While I had not originally made plans to attend graduate school, my teachers in the geography department really spurred my interest in geopolitics and helped me to develop an undergraduate thesis looking at water resources. In addition to their academic support, the two professors attended my presentations at conferences and gave me the encouragement I needed to apply for graduate schools around the country. Two years later I am getting paid to research issues I am truly passionate about, and will likely continue onto a PhD program.
Because of their knowledge of internship opportunities, academic resources, and all the best places on campus to buy a sandwich, college professors can be useful people to know. However, they are also just that—people. Their career paths, academic pursuits, and dreams for the future can be hugely influential for students who are still developing a plan for the rest of their lives. Get to know them. You will absolutely not regret it.
Photo source: Flickr