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Asking Instructors for Help

Don’t Hesitate to Ask Your Professors for Help

Written by Steven G. Kish, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology

Contrary to popular belief, your professors are not out to get you. Having been a professor for a few years, I can tell you that we take no pleasure in seeing students struggle. There is nothing to be gained by allowing a student to put themselves in a position where they are unable to pass a class, which is exactly what happens when students don’t ask for help.

It’s alright to ask for help. Sometimes it is the course content. Sometimes it is life getting in the way. While we may notice a drop in a grade on a quiz, or a poor performance on an exam, unless help is asked for, we may not recognize a student is in trouble until it is too late.

I know it is difficult to ask for help. We all want to believe that we can do anything we set our minds to. We want to prove that we can do this on our own. However, we don’t have to. We are social creatures, and forming relationships, no matter the situation, is what we are hard-wired to do. Engaging others in the learning process can provide a viewpoint that may have been overlooked.

Asking questions can get you closer to understanding a concept and, in the end, provide you with the answer you have been looking for. One of the most useful phrases I have learned to use over the years is “I don’t know.” That phrase can open new pathways to explore and new opportunities for understanding the content. Try it sometime. You will be surprised how well it works.


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