As the exam season comes creeping in, one thing I can not recommend enough is to go to office hours. I know that it can be pretty intimidating sometimes. I definitely felt nervous when I first started going to office hours too.
In my first year, I was shocked and confused after getting my first assignment back. I didn’t do nearly as well as I expected and I felt like I had failed as a person. I had never received such a low mark in high school before. I thought maybe I wasn’t smart enough and I quickly hid my assignment in fear that a classmate might see the score that I received.
I felt ashamed of my low score that I didn’t want to see my assignment again. I just left it at the back of my folder, and I didn’t even bother looking at it. I didn’t know what parts I did wrong or what I did correctly. Although there were office hours, I didn’t go partly because I didn’t want to see it again and also partly because I was afraid that the professor or the TA might think that I am stupid.
But the weird thing is, when I did well, I actually wanted to go to office hours. I felt the urge to see what I did incorrectly, to see what made me trip up and not get 100%. I went to office hours to ask questions so I can understand what I did wrong and where I can improve. I felt confident in going because I didn’t feel self-conscious about my grades. And I didn’t want to worry that the professor or the TA might judge me.
I was afraid that my TA would judge me based on my grades. But, when I became the TA, I realized that this wasn’t the case at all. I saw office hours from a whole new worldddddd (sorry, got distracted but Aladdin is the best). I felt really excited when students came in for office hours to ask questions about their assignments or even just to have a discussion about deciding their major and other ways to get involved. I wanted students to come in because I really wanted to help. There were a few, rare students who came in to get feedback on their assignments and I was proud of them. I was proud because they were proactive in their own learning and I can tell that they wanted to do better. I noticed that the students who came in and sought for feedback did better later on in the course. After I saw office hours from the other side, you bet I started regretting not going to office hours when I did badly on assignments.
So I urge you to take full advantage of office hours! The professors and the TAs are there to help you support your learning. Most final exams are cumulative so it makes sense for you to revisit the assignments and midterms. I know it might suck to have to see that assignment you bombed earlier in the term. But now is the time to see what you did wrong so you know exactly what you can improve on and ace those finals.
PS: Remember that grades are important but they don’t define who you are. Don’t put yourself down over a number. You are much more than that 🙂