Very few students from his class come to visit Kevin Pryor.
“I only have several students a year come in for my office hours,” said Pryor, a teaching assistant in history.
Instructors have designated times they must be in their office in case students have any questions. Many students such as Pryor say students do not take advantage of these hours.
He said he is always disappointed when he sees a student struggle without doing anything to change it.
“We hold office hours solely to benefit the students,” he said. “When students don’t show up, we end up working on our own class work or talking about Star Wars and Star Trek.”
Erika Askin, a sophomore from Red Bud studying physiology, said she has never been to a professor’s office hours, and nor have many of her friends.
“All of my teachers offer them, and I always think it is a good idea to go. I just never do,” she said. “When I need help with something, I ask my friends and if they can’t figure it out, then oh well.”
Audrey Wagner, a lecturer in geography and environmental resources, said she waits for students to come during office hours, but they rarely show up.
“I stress during all of my lectures that I am here for the students and that my office hours are there so I can help them, but I don’t think students realize how beneficial coming to them can be,” she said. “It’s pretty much free one-on-one tutoring.”
Gilberto Tinajero, an undecided freshman from Chicago, said he will do everything he can to understand school work before seeking help from a professor.
“I’ve been to see one of my TA’s once and that was only because the problem I had could not be solved over the phone or by email,” he said.
Tinajero said he knows the majority of students don’t visit a professor unless they really need to fix their grade, and even then some students would rather fail.
Vinusha Gorantla, a teaching assistant in computer sciences, said she normally doesn’t see students until the end of the semester when they need to salvage their grades.
“Right before final exams or final projects is when students happen to show up when they are at risk of failing,” she said. “Instead of coming and getting help from the beginning of the semester, students come in expecting to learn everything from the semester right before the exam.”
Wagner said she thinks part of the reason students don’t come into office hours is because students may be too intimidated.
“We’re not here to scare anyone, and I think the sooner that a student comes into office hours, the less intimidating we become and the more comfortable they become around us,” she said.
Askin said she is intimidated to go and talk to her teachers.
“I think a large part of why I don’t go to office hours is because I am a shy person, and it can be really scary for me to just go up and talk to them,” she said.
Chris Peters, a senior from Springfield studying geography and environmental resources, said office hours are very important to him.
“When you go in to talk to your professors, you not only get help with whatever you are having difficulty with, but you also gain your professor’s trust,” he said. “When your teacher knows you, they are much more likely to be understanding and give you the benefit of the doubt.”
Pryor said he encourages all students to come to office hours not only to help them academically but also to build a relationship.
“Students need to realize that the relationship they build with a professor or teaching assistant can be so beneficial for them,” he said. “When you come in, we can see that you’re actually putting effort toward the class, which is very hard to see in a class of 200.”
Peters said he knows because his professors know him, they will one day write him recommendation letters or maybe refer him to an internship.
“Students really are doing themselves a disservice and passing up a great opportunity by not going to office hours,” he said.