Picture this—there are a few hours standing between you and your next exam, and you’re reviewing a couple of ideas to make sure you’re fully prepared. While studying, you realize there’s a concept you need help with before taking the exam. You panic, but then realize the professor has office hours. You run to the professor’s office, only to be met with a shut door or a disheartening “Can you come back later? I have several deadlines to meet today.” Sound familiar? If you are a college student, it likely does.
Office hours are a requirement of the university, which mandates that both full-time and part-time faculty hold a certain number of office hours for “individual academic support and counseling,” according to the faculty handbook. In accordance with personnel policy 701, full-time faculty are expected to maintain approximately 12 regular office hours per week, while part-time faculty are expected to maintain hours equivalent to the number of course hours they instruct. While faculty, like students, do get busy trying to maintain deadlines, they should keep in mind that honoring office hours is part of the job and helps students thrive.
At Baylor, students are blessed to be taught by faculty members who are respected experts in their fields. In accordance with the university mission, several of them conduct research that will serve to better humanity. From the science to the language departments, many professors are constantly renewing their minds in an effort to further ideas and concepts in their fields. This likely causes a ton of work on their part, which limits their time.
Students, however, are not unfamiliar with this plight. Many of students, too, have research papers, tests and projects that have to be completed by a certain time. Coming to office hours is often an attempt to complete such assignments by their given deadline. If professors don’t honor office hours, it could be hard for students to honor their deadlines given by faculty. It’s a vicious cycle.
Faculty should also understand that honoring office hours can also help foster symbiotic relationships between students and professors. These friendships can often help guide students in the right direction with careers and other life choices. Other administrators, such as Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber, have started encouraging professors to have meaningful relationships with students. Amherst College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, is known for their student-teacher relationships. Professors often invite students home for dinner and conversation. Baylor professors who serve as residence hall directors for the purpose of helping to foster good relationships between students and faculty. These methods help students succeed post-graduation, helping both the students and the university.
Many students at Baylor were successful in high school and attempt to be independent. Some students find it hard to reach out to faculty for help, especially those who appear disinterested in helping students and often have closed doors throughout the day. Having an open-door policy with students can help students who struggle with asking for help. This includes helping during times that may not be convenient for faculty. In the end, faculty should remember it’s their job to make sure they are available to students as a resource.