This is the season of tests and projects aka midterms. Either you have been studying for midterms or not studying for midterms or at least been hearing about people studying for midterms.
The academic hammer has been flattening us all in some shape or form, and I know that I for one am exhausted. My blood pressure has been fluctuating dramatically based on my level of preparedness for a particular exam, I’ve consumed enough coffee to fund a farm and I no longer believe that I will do anything in this world. Disheartening, those good old midterms and those good old projects and those good old whatever-else-teachers-think-to-assign-us.
Sometimes I think school was designed to make us more and more convinced that we know nothing. Inevitably, teachers want us to reach higher and achieve academic greatness. All very well and good … Until you remember that we are undergraduate students. Who. Know. Nothing. I could tell endless stories about how I would go into a professor’s office to ask a question, only to realize that they already expected me to know the answer to whatever question I was asking. Yesterday, at 10 a.m. For the midterm that I took. Too late now, right?
Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am. I consider myself a very hardworking person. I will quite willingly lock myself up in a library classroom for eight hours and do what needs to be done. I’ll skip meals and sleep and probably infuriate my roommates with my bipolar study music (the jams include Tyga and the “Chronicles of Narnia” soundtrack). But when all of my efforts turn into a grade that I feel like is below what I worked for, I am devastated.
Maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe I put too much of my worth in my grades. Maybe I should go to therapy. Whatever, I’ll deal with that later.
In any case, I have learned a valuable lesson over my years here at Pepperdine University: office hours are for real. I cannot even tell you, my dear reader(s) how many times I have sloughed my sad self into a professor’s office and told him or her my tales of woe. Armed with my overstuffed backpack and a list of reasons why I deserve more points, I always kind of end up spewing my guts to whichever professor I have gone to visit.
I have cried to my neuroscience teacher. Oh and my biochemistry teacher. I have borrowed a calculator from my physiology teacher. I have traded recipes with my health advisor. I used to go into my exercise physiology teacher’s office after every exam just to, you know, make sure I understood all of the points that I had gotten wrong … and maybe get some back? Hey, you never know.
In other words: I am that obnoxious student who takes full advantage of every single office hour.
I think that visiting and chatting with my professors helps me to fight post-exam or post-project bitterness. For the most part, they want to help, they want to guide and they want to see me/us/students succeed. It’s affirmation through strokes of their red pen and reassurances that “don’t worry, there is still so much time left in the class” or “tell me what you think about ____ topic.” It is me eating a to-go Caf meal and them eating a Stouffer’s frozen lasagna across their desks.
I realize that this article may make me seem like some kind of nerd and maybe I am one. Oh well; I like the friends that I have found in my professors. Take advantage of those few hours a week that they are fully dedicated to you one-on-one. They cannot possibly say no to talking to you, because isn’t that what office hours are designed for?
Your professors love you and even if they don’t love you, you can pretend that they do. They love their job, at least. And you are their job — it’s love by secondary association. So go see them. Bring presents (they seem to like snacks a lot) and bring compliments about their class. Bring your troubles — they tend to be very wise people. Bring your questions about the class material and about life. Professors can be your friends, too. But not midterms. Those can stay in the enemy category.
Follow Taylor Nam on Twitter: @namnam330