Oh ambitious student, where art thou?

Jill Schleiden

After transferring from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was struck by the strangest difference between that school and UMKC.

At UMKC, nobody seems to know their professors. Sure, your logic professor may tell you to call him “Doc Santa Claus,” and when talking about child development in psychology, your professor may drop a few lines about his own kids.

But there lacks on this campus a common expectation students will meet and talk with their professors.

At Nebraska, I loved office hours. We have 120 minutes to pick apart a smart brain? One that knows what I need to learn about? Sign me up! Great idea!

I love office hours. They open the door to so much information (and occasionally guidance or camaraderie) you can’t find anywhere else.

Some of my favorite professors weren’t the best classroom teachers, but they taught me more when I came to them, anxious to learn.

My English teachers tell me new books to read and my history teachers help me study events in-depth so I can better understand the class material. And my writing professors, of course, give me extra feedback on my work.

Who wouldn’t want all that? We’re here at UMKC to learn. So why aren’t we taking every opportunity? Several of my professors here seemed surprised when I showed up to office hours not because I was struggling, but because I wanted to learn more.

Don’t go to office hours only after you’ve tanked your grade. Your professors want you to do well and learn much. The second you get confused, go tell them. Talk to them, get a little help, then get to know them. They can teach you a great deal- I can’t emphasize that enough.

Currently, I go to one of my professors’ office once or twice a week. She’s helping me put together strong grad school applications and letting me in on the curriculum-writing process. I learn so much from her every week. And when we’re not talking education, we get to talk about music, books and art.

Your professors aren’t that different from you. They have likes and dislikes. They have a puppy that chews their shoes, kids who talk back, favorite bands and sports teams.

When you go to office hours, you find not only an intelligent guide in your education but also an experienced person to befriend. (And hey, it can’t hurt your grade, you know?)

[email protected]