Seek Help for Academic Struggles

By Ahmad Allaw, Courier & Press, Sept. 29, 2015 –

You walk into what seems like an auditorium with a flood of seats to your front, back, right and left. Eventually, you take a seat among a sea of others. There are perhaps 200 students, maybe more.

It’s nothing like you have ever seen. It is neither like high school nor what came before. Some students will quickly become accustomed to these large lecture courses, succeeding without fail. Others, though, will feel like a drop of water among what seems to be an endless stretch of ocean.

The professor speaks and leaves. There is no time to ask questions. If you stumble, the teacher is not there to pick you up. If you fall behind, the run does not stop; instead, the marathon continues. One bad grade can quickly become two, and two can quickly become even more.

In college, many will experience their first real academic struggles, and the struggle hurts. It hurts because you aren’t necessarily lacking in effort. It hurts because you see others, with less time invested, succeeding when you are not.

You may not know what to do. You may feel defeated and think about giving up. You may question yourself, doubting your own value and intellect.

For college students who experience such issues, the biggest mistake is thinking you are alone and believing you cannot or should not ask for help.

Perhaps all I have written thus far falls on deaf ears. However, if there is one thing I could say, one piece of invaluable advice I cannot stress more, it would be to never shy away from asking for help.

The help is there. For any troubles you could almost certainly talk to your resident adviser or counselor. Every university also has tutoring services. The professors that leave immediately after lecture have office hours. Most are friendlier than they might seem during lecture, and they also want to see you succeed. If the professor is not there, a teacher’s assistant almost certainly will be there.

Remember, help is always there, but you must have the courage to use it.

And, as a reminder, always have perspective. You may tend to get caught up in your present, forgetting both what came before and what may still be to come. You are in college because of your own accomplishments. You are in college because someone saw what you had done, what you were and what you could be. Someone was willing to take a chance on you.

So never feel like you don’t belong that college isn’t for you or that you are somehow less worthy than anyone else. And remember, you are more — much more — than your grades. Don’t let your grade-point average define who you are.

And so, as a college student, things won’t necessarily be easy. You will likely struggle at times, whether in academia or otherwise. But, if you seek out help, if you use the resources the university provides, you will have a much easier time than if you keep things to yourself.