Icebreakers for Office Hours

February 7, 2022

Smiling female college student smiles as she shakes hands with a female professor.It is common to feel nervous about using office hours, either for support in a course or when you're trying to get to know faculty or GSIs. Today, we're sharing tips and suggestions for how to get your conversation started!


  • If you introduce yourself by email, don't be discouraged if you don't hear back or if the response is short. Faculty get a lot of email and it can be hard to communicate a warm tone this way. You can always introduce yourself in person for more immediate results. 
  • You can go to office hours for faculty even if you are not enrolled in one of their courses.
  • Use office hours early if you are struggling in a course or if something comes up in your personal life that might affect your ability to meet deadlines.
  • You do not need to stay the whole time! Office hours are a window of time where your faculty or GSI is available.
  • If you know you will need a letter of recommendation in the future, try to develop a relationship with a faculty member early so they can get to know you more deeply.

Opening lines to break the ice

For support with a course

  • I think I understood the reading, but I am not sure. Could I go over it with you?
  • Could you tell me two specific areas where I could improve for next time?
  • I’m having difficulty in class right now because of an issue that is impacting my work. Could I talk about it with you?
  • This assignment is very hard for me. Could we talk about how to do it together, step by step?

For relationship building

  • I'm still trying to figure out my major. How did you know you wanted to study your field?
  • Just popping in to say hello. I'm enjoying your class.
  • I was really interested in [X] topic, can you recommend any related readings or classes I should look into? 
  • I read on the department website that you research [X]. Can you tell me more about your research?
  • In the reading, I found X [specific example] interesting because of what it tells us about Y [larger phenomenon]. 

More articles and support

Check out these two great articles on office hours from the Daily Cal:

Back to Discover Opportunities and Connect on Campus

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