January 28, 2022
Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #42: Office Hours: Maximize Your Learning and Career Goals!
Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Office Hours: Maximize Your Learning and Career Goals!
Office hours are essential to the learning process. However, if you peek into a professor’s office during this time, often the office is devoid of students! If you are a student that doesn’t like to ask questions during class, then office hours are the best time to comfortably review any confusing material covered during class. Additionally, office hours are important because it allows students to build motivation, seek professional advice, and establish relationships.
SPRING SEMESTER CHECK-IN: What do you need to change this semester to improve final exam performance? Did you take advantage of this learning opportunity last semester?
1) Struggling with the Material
There is a reason why Professors have office hours – so students can ask as many questions as they need to in order to be able to fully understand the material. Not everyone utilizes office hours, even if they are struggling with the material. So, by going a step further and taking advantage of these office hours, you will be able to solidify your understanding of the material and positively impact your grade.
Motivation and relationship building are separate but can blend and overlap. This reason might sound a bit odd, but it can help with those students who are feeling unmotivated to study for certain classes. The more you attend office hours and build a relationship with your professor or your TA, the more motivated you will be to do well in the class. I have experienced this myself during my first year. I had lost motivation and began to visit one of my TAs every week. Not only did she help me understand the material, but would share her own experiences in similar courses which helped me stay motivated.
3) Professional Advice
Many of the professors have either practiced in a legal field you might be interested in or are still practicing attorneys or judges. Find out what field your professor has experience in. If that interests you, then visit office hours and talk to them about their experience in the field and what steps you can take to get there.
Another resource for advice is your TA and/or Dean’s Fellow. Chances are that they have just completed an internship with a firm that you might be interested in, or might even share interests in the same field as you. Take the opportunity to talk to your TA, Dean’s Fellow, and your professors, seek advice, and expand your network.
4) Establishing a Relationship
By going to office hours and getting to know your professors, you can end up establishing a lasting relationship. This is important when it comes time for letters of recommendation. Yes, recommendation letters can be based on how well you did in the class. However, if the professor knows you well then the recommendation letters will be much more personal. Additionally, it is always great to keep in touch...you never know what questions will come up when you are studying for the Bar.
As a final note, make sure to take advantage of office hours early on in the semester and DO NOT WAIT FOR THE LAST MINUTE, especially if you have questions on the material. Many students end up waiting until Reading Period office hours to ask questions and you might not be able to get your questions answered then.
*About the Author:
Anush is a Traditional Day 2L student who graduated from the California State University, Northridge with a degree in Psychology. During the summer of 2021, Anush externed for a law firm where she worked on medical malpractice, personal injury, and sexual assault cases. She is interested in continuing to gain more experience in the different types of practice areas.
Anush looks forward to working with you and is here to answer your questions.
Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.
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