College is often thought of as a race to accredit yourself with whatever courses your degree requires. I hear the phrase “C’s get degrees” far too often. While a good GPA is certainly important, college offers so much more than a diploma.

Roles in clubs, Greek life, LSU Student Government and other student-run organizations, like The Daily Reveille, are only a few of the many extracurricular opportunities the University offers.

One of the most overlooked aspects of college is the immediate access to knowledge and guidance from professors. When was the last time you utilized your professor’s office hours? I have to admit, I didn’t start taking advantage of office hours until my junior year. I wish that I would have begun that practice my very first semester.

I don’t just mean visiting for help with an essay, math problem or economics concept. You should definitely go to your professors for help concerning their class. But, you should also stop by their office from time to time just to chat.

An often-overlooked benefit that college students should take advantage of is a relationship with their professor. A positive relationship with a professor can open doors otherwise unknown. Professors are professors for a reason. They’re experts in their field and are wealthy in experience. That experience typically means a vast network of potential opportunities for students.

That experience also means that they’ve been in your shoes before. They know the struggles of college and how difficult it can be to navigate the world as a young adult. They’re there to help you mold yourself into whoever you choose to become. Take advantage of it.

Before you know it, you’ve not only learned the content of the class, but you’ve fostered one of the most important relationships of your young adult life. 

In high school, we’re usually told what courses to take and our paths are decided for us. But in college, all of the power is in our hands to decide how we want to spend our time. That’s when the choices become overwhelming and that’s when a mentor becomes invaluable. 

I encourage anyone reading this article to reach out to a professor you enjoy, even perhaps a former professor that you wish you could take again. You’d be surprised by how willing and eager most professors are to take the time to listen to their students and do their best to help however they can.

Don’t think of college as simply a means of accreditation. Think of college as an opportunity to broaden your social sphere and enhance your life in ways other than merely passing classes.

Office hours are an invaluable opportunity that students should utilize. It’s a chance to soak in whatever wisdom your professor offers. You’ll be grateful you did.

James Smith is a 22-year-old mass communication senior from Grand Coteau, Louisiana. 

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