Welcome to Office Hour! I’m Aileen Seo, a first-year from San Diego, California and every week I’ll be sitting down with professors to talk about some of the cool things they are doing here at Brown! I’ll be writing about everything from their research to what they love most about teaching here, so stay tuned!
Most will associate office hours with sitting down with a professor, but often, you’ll find yourself discussing questions and papers with TAs or teaching assistants. TAs are undergraduates and graduate students who have experience or an interest in the subject of the class you’re taking. You’ll find TAs leading discussion sections for large lectures or grading exams or papers.
TAs can be more accessible and approachable than professors because most have recently been through life as an undergraduate and are more familiar with and (probably) more open to bonding over the struggle of having four papers due in the same week. Going to TA office hours may be a good place to start for those of us out there who are still aren’t convinced that professors are (friendly) people too!
TAs tend to be more flexible with scheduling meetings outside of class than professors and can serve as a helpful resource for discussing questions about reading, getting help on problem sets, and discussing exam questions or papers. For large lecture-style classes, TAs will get to know you on a more personal level as they lead the small discussion sections where people actually get to meet and know one another.
So next time you get too scared to step into your professor’s office to discuss your paper, try heading over to your TA’s office! You’ll quickly figure out that meeting with your TAs and professors isn’t as scary as you think!
If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.