Learning Student-made Support

Why it’s okay to ask for help

There comes a time in our academic careers where we need help. You may find yourself totally lost in lecture one day. Sometimes you may fall behind in essay planning or exam revision. Or perhaps there’s a certain concept from class that you simply can’t wrap your head around.

But if you’re anything like me, approaching your faculty for help is daunting. I become flushed with nerves and self-doubt, causing me to second-guess my needs. Will this affect my grade? What if my professor thinks I’m stupid? Am I the only one who feels this way?

When overcome with stress, it’s difficult to reach out. However, asking for help doesn’t need to be as anxiety-provoking as it feels. Here are a few things to remember whenever you find yourself in an academic rut to encourage you to seek guidance when you need it.

  1. You’re not alone

Let’s say there’s a subject in class that you’re really struggling with. Whether it’s memorizing geologic time periods or understanding economic principles, there are some concepts that take a little extra time. If a concept is giving you trouble, start by asking your peers for help. They’ll either guide you through their own understanding of it, or they’ll agree with your struggles.

Asking your classmates for help is much less scary than consulting lecturers. And in doing so, you either gain a better grasp of that tricky concept itself, or you’ll be backed by an eager flock of students when approaching faculty.

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  1. It’s what they’re there for

Assuming your attempt from step one was met with universal confusion, it’s time to talk to your lecturer. Whether you’re needing to talk to them alone or with a group of peers, try to keep calm.

As teaching staff, your lecturers expect students to ask questions, meet them in office hours, and send them emails. As an undergrad, I was shocked by the number of my professors who stressed their availability to us. In fact, several of them said they literally sit in their offices for hours on end, waiting for the rogue student to stop by to save them from twiddling their thumbs.

Shoot out an email, schedule a meeting, and enter your lecturer’s office with confidence. Remember that helping you is part of their job and their purpose is to make sure you succeed.

  1. Professors are people, too

It’s hard to imagine, but at some point all of your professors were in your shoes. Maybe it was a few decades back, but they’ve all been students before. I try to remember this when I’m too nervous to seek help.

They get the stress that you’re experiencing, and likely want to make their class as understandable and enjoyable as possible. When reaching out, you not only help yourself, but your professors as well.

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When struggling in school, remember that you’re not alone, your voice matters, and help is readily available. At the end of the day, we’re all here to learn as much as possible as UoM students, and there’s no reason that nerves should hinder our student experience!