Updated: Nov 20, 2021
I know that going to see your professor can be intimidating. In fact, I am probably one of those intimidating professors. .I know it can be scary going to see the sage on the stage and the person who assigns your grade. However, know that all students were once a professor and may have been one of those intimidated ones. In fact, I was one who had a negative experience in office hours. This is why I try to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
Remember that this is your education and totally your responsibility to get out of it what you can. So don't cheat yourself by neglecting a valuable resource, professor's office hours. Going does not mean you are stupid or a slacker, it means that you care and are invested in your success. Going to office hours is also a great way to get to know your professors. You may someday need a recommendation letter, career advice or other accommodations.
So here is a short list, "What do I do in office hours?
Ask your professor when their office hours are and then make an appointment to attend them. You can also attend with your study group if you have some common questions. If their schedule does not work with yours, ask for a special appointment. Remember, if your schedule changes and you cannot make it, please let them know.
Before your appointment, review your homework, notes, quizzes, and exams, read your textbook and make a list of all of your questions. Bring your written work, textbook, notes and any other tools you need like a computer or calculator. If it is a homework question, make sure you attempt it first and be prepared to show your work. It is okay if it is all wrong, your professor just wants to know that you tried. It also helps them to know where to start and see what part you do or don't understand. Never show up with a blank piece of paper and say that you don't understand anything, that frustrates professors. Also having no agenda makes for a very inefficient and unproductive meeting.
Take notes and ask follow up questions while discussing the material. Work the problems with your professor to show you are actively engaged and learning. Don't be shy, there are no stupid questions except those that go unasked.
If you run out of time, make a follow up appointment to return. Commit to try and work on the concepts before the next appointment. Also try to join study groups, go to tutoring or learning center for additional assistance. Finally, thank your professor for their time.