Let’s be honest: college is tough.
Between papers to write, math quizzes to study for, and presentations to complete, students may find a new meaning of the word ‘stress.’ Adding to this anxiety is the unfortunate fact that many exams tend to fall within the same weeks.
Don’t let the academic rigor of Virginia Tech intimidate you, though. The university provides several free resources to help students succeed academically and come out on top at the end of the semester.
Professor office hours
One of the best people to ask for help about coursework is the one who knows the most about it: the professor. Each professor holds office hours each week during which they will be available to assist students with class material. The office hours should be on the course syllabus, but if their availability does not coincide with a student’s, many professors will allow students to schedule alternative hours upon request.
To get the most out of office hours, students should come with specific questions to ask. Narrowing the focus of your visit will likely allow one to get a more detailed answer to one’s questions, while asking a professor to repeat an entire lecture will likely result in their ire.
Also, students might find that office hours are crowded in the days leading up to an exam, so it is important to not wait until the last minute to ask for help.
Besides getting the best help for coursework, utilizing a professor’s office hours can also establish a relationship with faculty. In classes sometimes numbering in the hundreds, speaking one-on-one with a professor can help make you more than just a face in a crowd.
For a broad range of questions, students might find that their closest ally is their advisor. Each student is assigned an academic advisor with whom they may come to with issues ranging from difficulties with classes to career advice.
Elaine Matuszek, associate director of university studies, says that advisors are a vital resource to students, but with the many students that advisors are assigned, she recommends that students should take the initiative.
“[Students] should set the agenda; it’s their one-on-one time,” said Matuszek. “Make a list of questions and go down the list.”
Advisors can help students make the most of their academic experience by pointing to extracurricular activities which might benefit the student’s career path, helping determine four-year class plans, editing resumes, determining whether a student should drop a class and other general questions.
While advisors can be a great asset to students, Matuszek says they can only help if they know the student. Visiting an advisor early in one’s collegiate career and making oneself known can establish a relationship which can benefit one for years.
“Being a reference or a point of contact is an important part of the job,” Matuszek said. “We are knowledgeable about many things in the university and can help students.”
In addition to questions about classes, advisors can help a student get much-wanted internships and research opportunities by either leading them to other individuals or serving as references themselves. Establishing this valuable connection can lead to success both at Virginia Tech and beyond.
To find out who is your advisor, log on to HokieSpa and click on ‘View General Student Information.’ Email the advisor before visiting to confirm that they will be available and to establish both the intent of the meeting.