Office Hour Archetypes: The Clueless One

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Waiting for your tutor at office hours is always fun

The most common advice given by parents and career counselors alike is “make sure to develop relationships with your professors!” And that is good advice. Professors have a lot of knowledge and experience to share, and you will absolutely need at least one to write you a recommendation letter at some point. The best time to bond with a professor is during their office hours. And you know this–that’s why you showed up with your heavily annotated copy of the class readings prepared with at least three smart questions guaranteed to get your professor chatting happily away with you.

This person, however, has no idea what to say to the professor. You see them frantically flipping through the reading outside the office, searching for something to ask about that might make the professor like them. It’s not that they haven’t been to class or kept up with the readings, it’s just that they have no idea how to get the ball rolling with the professor. Once they get inside, you can hear them stammer out their question about symbolism in To the Lighthouse and the professor responds with a brief answer.

And then…painful silence. The question was too narrow to lead to the kind of far-reaching discussion The Clueless One longs to have. You can tell they can’t tell what to do now. Should they make up a question on the spot? Should they ask the professor how their weekend was? Should they tell the professor about what they think about the symbolism? They decide to end things now and slouch out of the professor’s office, clearly disappointed in themselves. You can tell they’re thinking “Why can’t I be more like the Try Hard?” and hoping that showing up every week will make up for their inability to connect.

You nod in recognition of their plight, and hope that the professor will be slightly more engaging with you as you walk into their office.


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