Academic Resources and Asking for Help

So you need help—now what?

In high school, your teacher most likely knew if you were struggling with a subject. In college, that may not be the case. Given the differences in the frequency of when your classes meet, the types of classes you have, and how your courses may be graded, your instructors will not know unless you say something.

Admitting you may not understand or know something can be difficult. You may feel overwhelmed, doubt yourself, or feel like you failed. You didn’t fail. It becomes a failure only if you don’t act and don’t try. It is important to advocate for yourself as soon as you find yourself struggling with course materials. Since college courses may move at a faster pace than high school courses and present material that is foundational for future course material, you need to access resources and get help to support current and future learning. 

The following academic support resources are available at most colleges and universities and do not incur any cost to utilize. 

On your syllabus, your instructor and any teaching assistants list their office hours. This is time dedicated specifically for student visits. Visiting during office hours allows you to build a more personal connection with your instructor and provides a forum to ask clarifying questions and seek out other resources and recommendations that can help you.

Campuses often have academic advising departments and centers. Academic advisors assist students in making the most of their academic experiences by providing advice l on individual student goals and needs. Staff and trained student leaders in these offices can often assist with a variety of academic and developmental needs and provide references to other campus support services for academics and well-being. 

Campuses and departments also have formal tutoring programs and learning labs. Tutors are trained student leaders who are great at making complex information digestible for you. In addition to increasing subject comprehension, a tutor can help you improve your study habits and increase your confidence and engagement with a subject. Learning labs are physical centers on campus where students can go to receive extra help in a specific subject area such as writing or math.

If you have a diagnosed disability or impairment, be sure to connect with your school’s office for disability services or coordinator for students with disabilities. They may have additional resources or policies to assist with academic concerns. For more information on accommodations, go here.