When you enter a class on the first day of the semester, there are a couple mental notes you make. Where the best place to sit will be, who the professor is, and what kind of notes you will need to take. The most important part of that first day should be finding out when the professor’s office hours are and when the TA’s office hours are. Maybe put them in your calendar on your phone. Those time slots will be so important.
When you are having trouble understanding something taught in class or do not know how to do an assignment, you have help. Asking your friends for help can only take you so far, and if you are in classes like mine, too much help could be seen as cheating.
Create that relationship with your professors and TAs at the beginning of each semester. Make sure they know your face.
Don’t be afraid of them – their job is to help you.
They won’t be upset if you ask a question. The worst case scenario would be that they tell you it is in the book or in the lecture slides – at least you know where to look now!
The bond you can make with professors in college is such a strong one. You see them often and they see you among many faces, but they don’t know you. Once you create that initial interaction, they will know who you are. They will be worried if they stop seeing you in class. They will help you if your grades are falling.
This past semester, I was intimidated by a professor who was teaching the hardest undergrad class I had to take. I knew that if I didn’t meet with him, I wouldn’t pass. I went to his office hours while my stomach felt like it was flipping inside me. What would I say? How would he react? I knew that I would panic so I wrote a list of questions I had for him.
When I walked into his room, I felt much calmer than I had expected. I simply asked if I could ask him some questions and he was more than happy to. I asked if it would be alright if I came to his office when every new lab was assigned so we could check that I understand it correctly.
He was more than happy to meet with me.
By the next time I saw him, he knew my name and greeted me right when I walked in. I felt much more confident in my knowledge by going to him and the TAs instead of asking my peers who may or may not know the answer.
I learned more in that class than I thought I would. I feel more independent because I didn’t have to hide in a state of uncertainty. I didn’t skate by and just barely get a passing grade.
I got a grade that I feel proud of and I am leaving that class knowing I learned something.
After I thanked him via email, I received an email back from him praising my hard work. They are there to support you. They are there to help. Don’t go to college scared of asking for help. In order to succeed in the real world, you will need to.