In some good classes I've had, I've gone to office hours not because I'm confused, but because I just want "more". I like the teacher and just want to listen to them talk about whatever, even if it's not necessarily about the class. I can usually come up with a couple questions for an excuse to come by, but I wish I could just say "please teach me more".

How do you do that? I don't know how to ask that, or how to instigate it. I usually just try to ask questions but sometimes I honestly don't have many, or at least ones that couldn't be solved by using a book. Usually these classes are ones I like, and thus I try to keep on top of things.

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    More is a very generic term. You might be more successful by asking focused questions on topics that are interesting to both you and the teacher. You might even get a chance to work together on some of those topics.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 8:19
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    If your sex is different than that of the teacher (or even the same sex in some cases), liking the teacher, wanting "more" and "want to listen to them talk about whatever" is a bad recipe for everyone involved.
    – Alexandros
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 8:28
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    @Alexandros Not necessarily. It might be true that using those words exactly in front of the teacher might make him/her uncomfortable, but I'm very familiar with such feelings which rise purely out of eagerness to learn and professional admiration, without involving any personal feelings.
    – Pandora
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 10:26
  • @JoErNanO That's my question. What if I don't have focused questions?
    – user41631
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 15:08
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    avid19 - Then think about why it is that you want more. Is it because you enjoy the prof's teaching style? Is it because you enjoy the subject matter? Is it because you just enjoy the act of learning? In the first case - follow user1938107's answer below and ask about auditing their other classes. In the second case - during the next lecture, think of at least one "what if...?" question (i.e., "what if you did x instead of y?"). Go to office hours and ask about it! In the third case - Wikipedia is your best friend. I'm full of random useless knowledge just b/c I love learning :)
    – tonysdg
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 17:25

3 Answers 3


I am not sure what you are looking for is possible. When I was first getting into research, there were plenty of people I thought just had amazing things to say, and great perspectives on so many topics. Even after school and being in research, there are people I truly respect that have a unique perspective on much of academia. The issue is, these people are usually respected by more than just one person, and as such, are extremely busy. They are also the people who are invited as speakers to conferences, TED events, etc.

My suggestion is, if you are really interested in hearing more of their perspective regardless of it being a topic of your class, you can ask if they hold other classes in which they lecture. Additionally, you can easily look their name on google to see if there are conferences they have given talks on (which is highly likely if they are a top academic). If you can not find anything online, you could still ask them if they have talks available online in a respectable way, such as:

I really enjoyed your explanation of topic x, it was a way I had not heard it explained before, do you have any online resources in which I could hear more of your thoughts on this?

If you are not interested in watching recorded talks, and only interested in one-on-one communication, I think you need to think more about the comments to your question by seeking more specific questions, or your real issue with wanting to hear the person speak.


Fundamentally, there are two types of "more", with some overlap.

There's the specific person, and the specific topic.

With regard to the specific person, you have to respect that their time is short and you'll have to fit yourself into their existing schedule. The question you will ask is "What courses are you teaching next year?" Unless you are very early in undergraduate studies, You are helping the faculty member by asking this question. Special topics courses get cancelled unless enough students enroll, and if you have the prerequisites, you'll get to hear more of the teaching style that works well for you and simultaneously help the professor keep his course on the schedule.

With regard to the specific topic, it's always appropriate to ask about practical applications to a theory course ("How would I use this?"), practical aspects of an applications course ("Can this fail?"), theory behind an applications course ("Is there a mathematical test to see whether it will be stable?"), what the professor would like to have included in the syllabus if the course were more hours, and whether the course material is applicable to the professor's own research. You may get lucky and be given pointers to notes or recordings prepared by the professor, but most likely you'll be pointed to other resources. Don't discount them when you back back out through the office door, this pays off proportionately to the effort you put in. Likely there will be an opportunity to talk about what you discovered from the resources suggested (assuming you actually put in the time to study them) when you next see the faculty, but even if not, you still learned new things.

Finally, most faculty will take some time to answer general sorts of advising questions about the curriculum of the department and/or professional development and career paths. Their research is always a possible topic for discussion... but unless you ask how it relates to the class and go out and learn more on your own, these are likely to be one-off conversations.


This probably goes without saying, but to be on the safe side... always cede the visitor's chair to a fellow student who is visiting office hours in need of help with the course. Also, make sure that you don't neglect to do the assigned work. Only go to have enrichment conversations when you are completely caught up with all your assigned work (in this and all your courses). Finally, be sensitive to the professor's own work rhythm. There will be some office hour days when your professor is working under a deadline, or is tired because his or her toddler couldn't sleep well the night before, or is jetlagged after going to a conference, etc.

Look at the professor's publication record; take a look at some of these publications. Based on that, you can prepare some questions of this type: What led you to get interested in _____________?

Some conversation openers:

I'm taking such-and-so other course, and such-and-so is tying in very well to what I am learning in this course OR I don't yet see how that subject will tie into ____________.

You mentioned in class that such-and-so is beyond the scope of the course. Are there courses offered here that would get into that in greater depth?

Can you recommend some enrichment reading that would give me a broader or deeper view of ____________ (name of area of study addressed in the course you're taking)?

I read such-and-so article about ___________ (some sub-topic that has come up in your course). I found especially interesting _______________.

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