One of the biggest challenges in college is learning how and when to ask for help. In high school, help was everywhere: from college counselors to teachers, from principals to parents and beyond. As midterms approach, you may feel a need for a more robust support system than study groups with friends. Here is our list of the best places to build an academic support structure in a new collegiate environment, courtesy of the College Transitions Program:
- Professors/Office Hours: The number one resource for a class is always the professor. Daunting as it may seem, attending office hours is an excellent way to get a new angle on the material and have an expert answer all of your questions. Even better, frequenting office hours can help you stand out from the crowd; developing an academic relationship with your professor almost always boosts your grade, especially around the all-important borderline calls if you are sitting between letter grades. Go to office hours to get some knowledge, and along the way you’ll earn the benefit of the doubt and perhaps even develop a fruitful connection that extends to letters of recommendation or research positions.
- Academic Advisors: If your doubt extends beyond class concepts and into bigger questions of the right major, the proper courses to take, or even extracurricular opportunities, talk to your academic advisor. College is a new world, and the politics of different departments might be new to you, but they are old hat to your advisor. If a professor seems unapproachable or a class feels overwhelming, it is helpful to get weathered advice from an insider. A mid-semester conversation with your advisor is a great way to put any pressure you are feeling in context and reaffirm your goals moving into next semester and the years beyond.
- On-Campus Tutoring Services: In the case you didn’t happen to become best friends with the top students in your class, you can find plenty of those top students working as tutors. Most departments have free tutoring centers, and almost all college campuses have a Writing Center. College-level writing is a different ballgame from high school papers, and these free tutors can help you learn how to research, outline, draft, and finalize your papers. If your professor refuses to assist your development one-on-one, ask your academic advisor about how to set up a tutoring session.
- Mental Health Resources: College can be a pressure-cooker of work, stress, drama, and anxiety. If you find yourself having a hard time taking a deep breath and having a few good laughs with friends, don’t hesitate to seek out campus mental health resources. Colleges are staffed with talented mental health professionals, and you should never feel ashamed to want to talk to one. With that in mind, take your emotional temperature from time to time: if you ever feel sad, anxious, or generally down, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
- Librarian: While we have all become accustomed to finding droves of information on the internet, college libraries are incredibly well-stocked wells of knowledge. These houses of books are staffed by some of the most useful research aides you will find on campus. A librarian is far more than an individual who stamps your books: he or she is an expert of the library and will help you navigate your search for materials.
If you these free resources aren’t enough and you want more personalized support, contact our College Transitions Team.