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Change of attitude

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

So heres the thing. I'm a sophomore in college. I generally have this feeling that professors don't like to be bothered by their students after class (even office hours). I generally become hesitant to even go to office hours because I know that I could probably solve the problems I have given more time. I also get the feeling that whenever I am in their office hours asking for help they have this condescending attitude of "geez kid, can't you do this yourself? Why are you bothering me?" OF course they don't show it but I always feel that I'm bothering them. I then end up spending more time than is necessary for grinding away at those blasted challenge questions at the end of the chapter. This becomes especially troublesome toward the time of exams ( the grinding away at problems part). I want to get more out of my education by fostering a better student-mentor relationship but it seems hard to do so when I don't feel as welcome. Is there some point where a student can become too troublesome in making use of office hours? What is a good way to show the professor you're really curious about the material and want to learn more or need help with a concept without becoming a nuisance?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Pengwuino
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Don't feel bad about attending professors office hours. They aren't doing their jobs for free, they're obligated to hold office hours and assist students. Some professors are just rude or have poor or awkward social habits or are just flat out too busy/stressed and you'll probably just have to deal with that. Put in a good effort, keep asking questions, and try to find professors you "click" with. Don't hope to force a good relationship where it can't happen.
 
  • #3
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Professors can get tired of being asked the same dumb question for the 100 billionth time. It's an occupational hazard. There isn't much the student can do about it. What professors often like to see is that the student has put effort into something before asking for help, so always make sure you've tried it first. And if you're able to solve stuff, even if it takes you longer, then what that actually means is that you might not have needed the help at all! You only think you do. ;-)
 
  • #4
Choppy
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One thing you're paying the big bucks for is the opportunity to discuss the subject with the professor. So first off, you have a right to ask questions - even dumb ones.

The other thing, is sometimes discussing a particular question stops being about the question itself and moves off into interesting conversations.

As someone who's been on the other end, yes, there are dumb questions that you get asked a lot. The most annoying ones are, as pointed out above, those where the student clearly hasn't made any effort and just wants to get the answer. Students who are genuinely interested and who've made an effort are usually a relief to talk to.
 
  • #5
jtbell
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What professors often like to see is that the student has put effort into something before asking for help
Just like we do here on PF in the homework forums. :smile:
 
  • #6
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In my experience, professors are always more than happy to answers my questions during office hours, as long as they are not questions that I could have figured on my own by spending a little extra time on the material i'm studying.
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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You've said you don't want to approach professors because you "have a feeling" that they don't want you there, even though "they don't show it".

How long have you had this power of mental telepathy? :smile: Seriously, all you've said is that despite all evidence to the contrary, you don't think the professors want you in their office during office hours. I don't think that's a very good reason to avoid them.

They have a responsibility to help you. You have the responsibility to have done the groundwork so that their help is useful to you.
 
  • #8
Dembadon
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My Calc I professor told our class that the most frustrating thing for a teacher is to see a student who needs help but doesn't ask for it. I've yet to have a professor who hasn't been thrilled that I've come to office hours. As others have mentioned, I'd encourage you to bring specific questions. I believe it's appreciated that you've put some work into trying to understand a concept before asking for help. Being efficient with your visit(s) doesn't only benefit you; it shows respect and courtesy for their time.
 
  • #9
lisab
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Is there an intermediate place you can go first, like a tutor center or a study group? After that, if you still have questions, I wouldn't hesitate seeing the prof.
 
  • #10
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I then end up spending more time than is necessary for grinding away at those blasted challenge questions at the end of the chapter. This becomes especially troublesome toward the time of exams ( the grinding away at problems part).
One thing that you might want to do is find a study group or a friendly teaching assistant, and try to work with them. That way if you find that you have to talk to the professor, you'll at least know it that wasn't a trivial issue.

The other thing is that professors are very, very different from each other. Some are friendly. Some are unfriendly. Some can explain concepts well. For some, they'll leave you even more confused than when you started.
 
  • #11
You've said you don't want to approach professors because you "have a feeling" that they don't want you there, even though "they don't show it".

How long have you had this power of mental telepathy? :smile: Seriously, all you've said is that despite all evidence to the contrary, you don't think the professors want you in their office during office hours. I don't think that's a very good reason to avoid them.

They have a responsibility to help you. You have the responsibility to have done the groundwork so that their help is useful to you.
Well i guess you're correct. I go to a research university and the professors are known to talk more about their research than the subject material. Although, this is a stereotype.

Thank you all for your inputs! I'll work harder at working harder.
If there are any more thoughts, please go on.
 

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