Office Hours and Tutoring: Individual Attention When You Need It

ellen-2017 Ellen, Viterbi Class 0 Comments

Hi everybody! Hope all your weeks have been great.  Mine’s been extremely busy – as a few others have mentioned, it’s midterm season!

This week’s blog post is inspired by a question I got at a MeetUSC event earlier this week.  A prospective student asked something along the lines of, “I know classes at college can be big – how much individual attention can I really expect to get?”

The answer is: as much as you can stand! First of all, class sizes at USC are generally pretty small.  Most of my classes fall somewhere in the 25-40 student range.  Even for bigger classes like general education classes, which can have upwards of 100 students, the lectures are broken up into smaller discussion or lab sections with around 20 students.

Here are some of the many ways you can get help or clarification for your classes:

  1. Office Hours – All of your professors will have regularly scheduled office hours every week where you can go ask them any number of questions.  Don’t be intimidated by going to your professor’s office and jumping right in; they have these office hours for a reason and want you to use them.  If for some reason you can’t make your professor’s office hours or need some more help, most classes also have graduate teaching assistants (TAs) or undergraduate course producers (CPs) who hold office hours.  Between all the instructional staff for my computer science class this semester, there is someone holding office hours Monday-Friday from 8AM to 8PM.   My Physics professor has a conference room near his office that he lets us use as a study hall during his office hours; the students all go and work on problems together and he comes in to check on us whenever we have questions.  My best advice about office hours would be to have a concrete idea of what you will be asking about before you go – look over notes, attempt to work through homework problems, etc.  It’s much easier for professors to help you when they have a direction!
  2. Supplemental Instruction – This is a university wide program in which undergraduates who are very familiar with the material of a course hold weekly review sessions so students can get extra practice.  SI sections are held for many of the common classes that engineers have to take in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Math.  My SI leader for my Calculus III class sent out a review sheet of extra problems before our midterm!
  3. Viterbi Academic Resources Center (VARC) – This one is just for Viterbi students.  Through VARC, you can schedule free, one-on-one sessions with a tutor, or stop by for drop-in hours if you have a last minute question.  Makana is a VARC tutor if you’d like to know more about it!

Have a good week and Beat the Wildcats!




Computer Science and Physics, Class of 2017, Learn more on her profile here!

Meet Ellen

Want to learn more? Here's the best place to ask: