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As you begin to take your first ever classes in university, chances are you’re going to have a lot of questions. While you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them in class, sometimes it’s just not possible due to time constraints or the nature of your question. In fact, sometimes you might not even know what your questions are until you’ve had time to process the lecture or start working through an assignment. 

Luckily, there’s a fix for that. The majority of Brock professors hold weekly office hours for this exact reason. This is an opportunity for students to drop in with any questions they have about their coursework without having to make an appointment ahead of time. Office hours are almost always drop-in, so you can stop by during the time listed on the course syllabus. In addition, some professors adopt an open-door policy, where students are welcome to stop by whenever they’d like, as long as the door is open. 

Attending a professor’s office hours for the first time can be daunting, but remember that professors are people too, and they’re there to help. In fact, some professors suggest that you drop by just to introduce yourself at the beginning of the semester.

One way to make office hours less scary is to attend with a classmate. If you’re struggling with a concept, there’s probably someone else in your class who is too. An added benefit to attending office hours in pairs or groups is that it gives the professor more time to provide detailed support instead of rushing through each student one at a time. It can also help alleviate the discomfort of meeting a professor outside of lecture. 

If you aren’t able to attend a professor’s office hours, you can also book an appointment with them to go over your questions. Typically, they will ask that you send them an email with two or three blocks of time during the week that work for you and they will do their best to accommodate one of those. It’s also a good idea to mention which class you’re enrolled in, the section, and what your question(s) generally pertain to. Also, be sure to use your Brock email address so it doesn’t get sent to spam. 

Another excellent resource for classes with a secondary component is your teaching assistant(s) (TA). TAs are typically graduate students who have taken the course before or are studying in a similar discipline. They often lead seminars, tutorials, and labs which build on the material taught in lecture. Since they are so closely involved with the course and sometimes even grade your work, they possess a great deal of knowledge in the subject matter and are equally happy to help. TAs don’t usually set office hours but are easy to connect with via email. 

The material taught in university can be difficult to grasp when you try to learn it by yourself. It’s normal to have questions, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them. Here at Brock, there’s help around every corner; all you have to do is ask for it.