Help in College

               For all the time we don’t spend talking about it, classes and grades are a massive part of college. We are, after all, there for the degree. So, it’s important that we finish our classwork and maintain “passing” grades while we also enjoy all the other things college has to offer. Part of keeping our grades up means knowing when we need to get help in college.

               When we first get to college, all of the newness and the opportunities and the unique social scene can be distracting. These perks of college are absolutely things that we should enjoy, but in the midst of all of that, it’s easy for classes to start slipping into the back seat. When we start forgetting assignments, bombing tests, or not showing up to classes, it may be time to reevaluate where our time is being spent.

               And sometimes, we can be doing things right, staying on top of homework, dedicating hours to studying, and taking copious notes during every class—and still find our grades slipping. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t grasp the content of that one course, or that one unit, or that one subject. Sometimes, we start failing. Here is where we need to know when to get help in college.

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               Now, just because you fail one homework assignment doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t understand the class or that you need help in class. Sometimes we have an off day. Sometimes our brain just doesn’t work. Every now and then, we’ll mess up, and that’s okay. We take a deep breath and move on. Does one messed up assignment mean we need to seek help in college? No.

               However, keep in mind that it is always better to get help in class sooner rather than later. If we wait too long, one bad assignment turns into a string of them, compounding bad grade on bad grade, and pulling the overall grade in the class down. At some point, there won’t be enough potential grades left, from assignments or exams, to bring the grade back to passing level. We really don’t want to be stuck in that spot.

               You know yourself better than I do, and you can typically tell when you’re just having an off day, and when you’re completely confused about what’s going on. After even two or three bad assignments in a row, we should seriously consider getting help in class. Even if the grades aren’t that bad, choosing to get help or visit the professor won’t hurt either, and it shows that we are serious about improving and doing well—and seriously, it’s not a bad thing for the professor to know you care about their class.

Where to Go and What to Do for Help in Class

               So, let’s say we know that we need help in college, we’ve looked at our grades, looked inward, and we are ready to improve… now what? Here are the first places that we should go when we need help in class:

Office Hours

               Office hours are time slots throughout the week that a professor will be on campus, in their office, and students are free to meet with them, ask questions, get help with class, and so on. All professors have office hours. When we need help in class, this should be our first stop.

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               It can be uncomfortable to go to a professor and admit you have trouble with their class but understand it’s their job to teach you. It may not always feel like it, but they don’t want you to fail. The more students that pass their class, the better it looks for them too. They may be particular about the way assignments are done, and that can be frustrating, but meeting with them and asking for clarification can help you know what’s expected.

Going to their office hours and asking for additional explanation on a topic or help filling in the gaps of your understanding shows that you care about doing well in their class and are trying to make that happen. Additionally, you get help from the person grading you. Pay special attention to what they say and how they say it. It can show you what specifics they want students to remember. The things they emphasize will probably show up on an exam.

Tutoring and Writing Center

               Most colleges, if not all, will have a student-staffed tutoring and writing center. This means that you can go to other students (typically upperclassmen) or graduate students who have taken the course or have an excellent handle on the subject matter that you are struggling with and get academic assistance. Because it’s help from other students, they often will know what you are going through and be able to relate to you.

               The tutoring and writing center at college will sometimes be combined and sometimes they will be separate things, it depends on the college. One thing that will carry over to just about every college is that you won’t have to pay extra to take advantage of it. The tutoring and writing center are included in the fees you pay for college. So, technically, you’ve already paid for it—you might as well get what you paid for.

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               Chegg/Online tutoring

               If the tutoring and writing center on campus isn’t helping, don’t sweat it—not everything works for everyone. You may need help in class from someone with more experience. If you need, sometimes a university will help pay for professional tutoring, but not always. Chegg offers tutoring, homework help, and the option for Q and A with an expert.

               There are countless tutoring websites, like tutor.com, Varsity Tutors, and UniversityTutor.com, to name a few. The drawback to using Chegg or another tutoring website, of course, is that most likely you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

The Library

               The library can also be a great place to look when you need help in class. Librarians are prepared to help you find resources for your classwork and studying. They can find books on just about any topic, recommend some areas to look into, and help with citations and references for essays and papers. The library can also be a great place to get homework and studying done, as there are usually private study rooms available at a college campus and all the resources you need are within reach.

Academic Advisors

               When you need help in college, going to your academic advisor for academic assistance can be very beneficial. Some colleges will assign each student to a specific academic advisor, other colleges will have a department that has staff on hand to handle each person as they call/come in. Academic advisors can provide valuable insight into creating strategies for studying/homework, planning out your courseload, pointing you in the right direction for assistance, and more.

               If we try everything, and can’t seem to bump up our grade, an academic adviser can help us plan out the best solution for dropping and retaking the class or finding a way through the mess. In some cases, they can even point us toward other students searching for a study group or who they think could help in class.

Other

               In some cases, our struggle in class can be a sign of something else. If we try everything, and nothing is working, maybe it’s time to change some things up or visit the counseling department. Memory problems or difficulty paying attention are both symptoms of several mental illnesses, such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Problems like these can develop for a number of reasons, among them increased stress or trauma. They can absolutely affect academic performance, and if nothing else seems to help, going to counseling services (which are free on college campuses) should be the next stop.

Even if we are not sure or doubt that our struggles in class are related, we should still go to counseling services, if only to be sure. Even if we aren’t diagnosed with anything, we can still get valuable insight into ourselves and develop strategies to help deal with stress, time management, sleep, and health.

Sometimes, just changing up our diet and exercising more often can improve our brain function. Eating more healthy, well-rounded meals and being intentional about getting an hour of exercise a day can yield insane results and help boost our cognitive function. Another big thing to do is make sure that we are getting enough sleep and being consistent with our sleep schedule. The effect of good sleep on our brain is like night and day (pun intended).

Conclusion

               Needing help in college is not something to be embarrassed about. Most students struggle in one or more areas of academia, and none of us are perfect. Being able to admit we need help in class and take the steps to improve is a sign of strength and determination. It shows that we are willing to do what it takes to get things done, and that is a desirable trait in both a student and a future employee.

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               Colleges are built on their students’ success, so they provide the tools to make success a possibility for every student. When the need for help in college arises, start with office hours, and work your way down the list as needed, but rest assured—there is something out there that will help you succeed in college classes.

For information on Christian colleges and universities, or to be entered into one of our scholarship drawings, visit us at The Christian Connector.