Should-be-asked questions

With the advent of email and other electronic means of communication, I have noticed that not as many students come to office hours as before. I understand why: Why come to the office to ask what the reading assignment is if it’s already posted online? The Breeze has noted this trend locally and others have written about it nationally.

There’s an unfortunate side effect of this trend. Previously, when a student would ask about the assignment, the conversation would later turn to more interesting topics: careers, issues and more. Now students who communicate electronically often don’t get to these other topics. Therefore, I’ll list here some of the topics that probably would be “frequently asked” — and topics that I would welcome discussing with you if you come by.

How can I get a good grade in your class?
The number 1 way — by far the most effective — is to do the work and bring it by office hours so that we can go over it together. Nothing else comes close.

Is it more important to come to class or to read the book?
My first reaction, of course, is “do both.” You’re a student and there’s no more important use of your working hours than to, well, be a student. However, as an economist I fully understand that people set priorities. Here, the choice is simple: come to class. My experience is that it takes multiple hours of reading and study to overcome the effects of missing one hour of class.

How can I decide on a major and a career?
Try to find out what you like, and what you’re good at — then look at the intersection of those two. Every experience in life can help you make these decisions. What classes have you liked? What have you liked, and not liked, about jobs you have had? (Even if they’re temporary or part-time, they can tell you a lot about yourself.) What do your religious or moral convictions tell you is important work? In my experience, asking these questions can move students toward a decision. This works better in person, though, so come by office hours if you’d like to discuss it.

Are you a Republican or a Democrat?
Neither; I’m an independent. I find myself frequently wishing that the Republicans were more interested in justice and that the Democrats were more interested in freedom.

What’s important in your life?
I’m glad you asked. The most important things to me are faith, love and friendship. Here’s where I’m coming from on matters of faith. (From my off-campus, non-JMU website.)