A Not-So-Secret Secret to Academic Success

Fellow Tigers share why office hours always make their planners.

By Brooke Maher

There were moments when Maggie Bunch, a sophomore majoring in journalism, found Mizzou larger than life during her first two semesters.

“The transition from a small, high school environment to a huge, university lecture hall was a bit overwhelming at times.” Maggie said.

To make a big lecture seem small, Maggie has some good advice:

  1. Sit near the front of the class.
  2. Learn at least one person’s name in each class.
  3. Most importantly: go to office hours.

“I made sure to visit my professors during their scheduled office hours,” Maggie said, “to formally introduce myself and also receive that essential one-on-one academic help that I needed to succeed.”

Heading to office hours is also the number one tip senior film studies major Alana Hayes has for incoming students to help the semester run smoothly.

“Office hours have personally helped me, especially during my junior year when I lost a family member,” Alana said. “My professors helped me through the grieving process as well as keeping me up to date with classwork.”

During a tough time, Alana found her faculty were very supportive when she kept the communication flowing.

“They (faculty) really are your biggest advocates,” she said. “I know it can be a little intimidating especially in those larger classrooms, but I know they really do want to see you succeed.”

Alana isn’t alone. Ashley Faber, a double-major senior studying strategic communication and music, says her first experience with office hours happened after being too nervous to speak up in class.

“I had a question about a concept that I was too nervous to ask in front of everybody,” Ashley said. “I went to office hours and the professor walked me through the concept and helped me understand it better.”

After the first visit, Ashley kept coming back – and it paid off in a big way when she was able to form a great relationship with her professor and he wrote her a letter of recommendation for a scholarship she was applying for.

Writing a thoughtful letter of recommendation takes time, and it’s difficult for a professor to do for a student they barely know. Communicating with your professors early in the semester can lead to deeper connections, better insight into projects and future courses in your major, and quicker understanding of concepts in class.

Check your syllabus for office hours and get connected. For more tips on how to succeed in the classroom and beyond, visit success.missouri.edu.