If you were to dive into my iCal or folders, you would be sure to find tons of documents labeled “OH”. It’s not an exclamation, as much as I am always excited about it. Instead, “OH” is my abbreviation for Office Hours, a particularly defining element of my college experience.
Somehow, I’ve always had a romanticised picture in my mind of what Office Hours would be like: a cozy afternoon where the sun shines gently into a book-filled office, an erudite scholar sitting behind a wooden table, enjoying a cup of tea while sharing his or her wisdom with a diligent student sitting across from the professor, taking notes carefully. This is probably at least somewhat the truth. Let me elaborate on my experience with OH so far at Pomona College.
As students, we absorb knowledge on a daily basis. Everywhere: far beyond just classrooms. You’ll hear about this all the time from my peers and myself. OH enables us to interact closely (in my case, almost always on a one-to-one basis) with scholars: not only do they give lectures, assign homework, grade papers and exams, but also publish their research findings in renowned academic journals and contribute new insights to the realm of academia. Consider the existing knowledge base a rectangular box: our professors are constantly thinking beyond this box — whilst engaging with existing theories and observations from other scholars worldwide across time periods, academics constantly extend the box, sometimes with overlaps alongside completely fresh discoveries or conclusions. If we were to map all the “boxes”, metaphorically speaking, the whole picture of academia would certainly have its own vibes and interesting dynamics.
If you do dream of becoming an academic one day, finding out about what life will be like firsthand from your professors is extremely informative. If you don’t, you still learn tons every day from those thought-provoking discussions. From my experience, Calculus OH can be fun (even though I’m not a math person, honestly speaking…) when I see that yellow notepad my professor’s holding in front of me, filled with her unbelievably neat handwriting, and when I share the joys of solving a challenging problem with my peers who are also there. Politics and History OH can be mind-blowing, when I learn about each professor’s own areas of academic research. Spanish OH can extend beyond the realm of literature to cover academic writing in general as well as big philosophical questions.
“Chasing” after professors is a different, fun story on its own. I won’t say too much to leave some suspense, but fear not: professors generally love for students to talk with them during Office Hours or ad-hoc appointments; they are here because they love teaching and interacting with us students.
As you know, I’m writing from Claremont, Calif., an eccentric little town. A little story to finish this off: when I had breakfast at the local bakery at 6:30 am (jet-lagged and wishing that dining halls would open earlier: brunch at 11:00 sounded too tantalising) this morning, I casually spotted two professors, one of whom had previously exclaimed, “Jesus! She is reading Moses Mendelssohn!” last semester, curiously in the very same seat.