It may seem silly, but many students feel intimidated about asking their professors for help. The reasons why vary – some don’t want to bother their professor, others think they have enough time to catch-up on their own, and a lot just never get around to it. Here’s the thing though…you should totally ask your professor for help. If you’re unsure, unclear, or nervous about doing poorly on an assignment or test your professor is by far the best person to seek out. Full stop. And there are three key reasons why:
They Genuinely Want You to Succeed
This may seem obvious, but professors are teachers. Do you really think a teacher has ever gone into that line of work just so they can gleefully fail students? No. They want you to learn and succeed.
A professor’s job is to educate students about their course material but they’re also well aware of how demanding school, work, and life can be for people in college. Most instructors will work with you, listen to you, and try to support you as you learn. So, remember the next time you need help, these are the kind of people whose passion it is to help students learn. They’re not going to turn you down or make you feel weird about asking for help. You just have to make the first move and say you need it.
It Helps Your Instructor Get to Know You
Hard truth: the first time you ask for help it will probably be uncomfortable and stressful. It’s not exactly a fun activity but asking for help allows your professor to learn a couple of important things about you.
- You’re working hard to improve and learn.
- You’re paying attention enough to know what you don’t know.
- You’re proactive enough to get better before the grades are final.
Making an extra effort on your side will 9 times out of 10 results in an instructor put in some extra time and effort on their side to help you out. The other benefit of asking for help is that you become more than just a face in the classroom. Coming to an instructor personally and introducing yourself 1:1 helps them get to know you better. As they familiarize themselves with your problem, they can better explain and help in a way that makes sense to you. That personal attention just isn’t always possible in a classroom or lecture hall but discussing something in their office hours or 1:1 via email can allow an instructor extra time to go over things with you.
The Earlier You Ask for Help, the More Positive the Results
Do you know what professors hate? The student who shows up 2 days before the final, failing their other assignments, and asks for help. At that point, a professor knows there’s nothing that can be done, so why waste their time?
Professors are almost always willing to help students, but they really appreciate the students who come to them for help before they do poorly on the tests or assignments. That’s not to say if you do badly on an exam you can’t seek out your professor for help but reaching out early to an instructor for assistance has drastically better results than someone who only realizes they’re failing at the very end of the semester.
Be proactive. Ask for help or assistance as soon as you recognize an issue. Don’t wait and hope you’ll catch-up on the lessons. Your professor will appreciate you more and be far more willing to put in extra time and resources with someone who gets help immediately.