Sitting across the room from a very knowledgeable and passionate person can be a rewarding, yet intimidating, experience. I remember when I came to college I was amazed by my Econ professor; his credentials, experience, passion and knowledge made me want to talk to him, but at the same time, it was a three hundred person classroom where the professor had no idea who we were. There was also the fear that, given that he is a university level professor, he would have no time (or preferred not) to talk to a fresh-out-of-high school student. Then the class started getting a little confusing, and I wanted to ask many questions, but still felt like it would be dumb of me to go ask him questions about stuff that had already been covered in class. But finally, I armed myself with courage, found his office in some remote building and went to his office hours. To my surprise, he was a very down to earth guy, but most importantly, he was happy to see a student come in with questions and enthusiasm. During that visit, not only did he clarify all my questions (even though some took a lot of patience) but we also chatted about his academic career and economics in general (even though I did not know much). From then on, I realized that attending class and doing homework and readings was not all the college academic experience had to offer; here I had the opportunity to go beyond that and enrich my learning through talking to professors and getting to know what they do in their field.
The lesson here is, do not be afraid of the person standing at the podium. These professors are here because they are passionate about their fields, but most importantly, because they love sharing that knowledge with their genuinely interested students. Whether you have questions or simply want to talk, your professors will be glad if you pay them a visit during their office hours—talking with students is the purpose of office hours, so take advantage of them!
-Triana Tello Gerez