From elementary school to high school, kids picked on each other for being a “teacher’s pet.” We all knew one or two – the ones that always raised their hands with a million questions, stayed after class just to chat with the teacher or reminded the teacher that she forgot to collect the homework.
Well, that kid was always me.
In middle and high school, I used to be embarrassed about it. I used to pack up my books as slow as possible, making sure I would be the last person out of a classroom, before I’d go up to the teacher and start a conversation. I’d always come to school ridiculously early to bring my teachers “last day of school” gifts at the end of the year, so that no one would see. I raised my hand a fair amount, but not too much.
That all changed when I went to college.
In college, “teacher’s pets” are encouraged, and the name isn’t as degrading. From my very first semester as a journalism major, I picked a mentor and I’m so glad that I did.
Having a mentor to ask for help or to talk to doesn’t make you “weird” or “incapable.” It makes you smart. It gives you a resource with at least a couple years of experience in the field you’re studying. It gives you an ally to help you apply for jobs, internships, graduate school programs. It gives you a reality check that you’re not always going to succeed the first time you try on an assignment, but your mistakes can be learned from. And if you’re lucky, it gives you a life-long friend.
But so many college students are afraid of asking for help. Sitting in a professor’s office every day to go over another assignment can be a bit embarrassing at first. Plus, we don’t want to seem stupid. After all, in three or four years we’ll be real adults and won’t be able to run to someone for help all the time.
But these valuable resources shouldn’t go to waste just because we’re afraid to ask for help, start a conversation or be seen as a “teacher’s pet.” It took a couple of weeks, but now I can comfortably walk into a teacher’s office, admit I have legitimately no idea what I’m doing regarding a specific assignment and he or she answers every question I have. I’m able to do well on assignments and get to learn from someone that’s had experiences I can only dream of.
So go to office hours. Be that “teacher’s pet.” Pick a mentor, strike up a conversation and get the help you need on an assignment. You’ll learn more than you ever will sitting passively in the classroom.