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It’s Okay to Ask for Help in College

In college – regardless of how organized or studious you are – you are inevitably going to run into obstacles. Your courses move quickly, and you’re expected to learn and process a vast amount of information, not only in your chosen field but in a broad array of other general education classes. Some course’s concepts are plain difficult for anyone to grasp. And even more so if you have little interest in the subject. It’s safe to say that you’ll probably need some additional help in at least one of your courses during your college years.

It’s definitely okay to ask your professor for help.

It’s important to remember why you are in college. To gain knowledge – not because you already know everything. Never feel embarrassed if you don’t know the answer to a question or you don’t understand a concept being taught. If the thought of raising your hand or asking a professor a question after class makes you nervous, keep in mind a professor’s #1 job requirement is to teach their students. You’re not wasting their time if you have a question or request to meet with him during office hours. Most professors enjoy teaching and are eager to elaborate on the topics they’ve worked much of their lives to become experts on!

If you asked a question in or after class and got the sense that your professor was in a rush and didn’t quite help you enough, don’t stop there. Again, take advantage of their office hours and schedule a meeting to gain a little more clarity on the material. If a professor expected you to learn everything on your own, we would call college Book School and there wouldn’t be any professors, just you and your textbooks. You are paying a lot of money to gain access to your professor’s knowledge. Take advantage of this.

When I ask a question in class, my professor seems to challenge me, instead of answering the question.

Please don’t take this personally. Your professor isn’t trying to embarrass you, and they’re not challenging you just to “be mean” or because “they don’t like you.” Your professor’s job is to test your knowledge, to make you think, and sometimes, to help you find the answer on your own. But if you’re still lost or didn’t get the answer you needed, do not get discouraged or let it go. Talk to your professor after class and explain that you’re still unsure about something, or yes, request to meet with them during office hours. Requesting help can benefit you in other ways, especially if your grade is teetering between a pass or fail. Your professor will probably reward a student who at least tried to do better.

My professor scares me.

If you find your professor totally intimidating or difficult, I get it. But it still doesn’t mean you should do nothing, fall behind, and settle for a lower grade. Or even worse, drop a course. Reach out to classmates and start a study group or contact your campus’s Student/Campus Help Services and request support. From stress management, counseling, anxiety management (I’m sure anxiety prevents many from getting the additional help they need) to tutoring and writing help, you will find the assistance and support you need for your course/courses.

Whether it’s your professor, a parent, a counselor, a classmate, or a friend, don’t hesitate to reach out and get the assistance you need. College isn’t easy, no matter how much you tried to prepare yourself for it. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available that can help you succeed.

Signs that you need to bite the bullet and ask for help:

  • You’re struggling to learn a concept.
  • You’re completely lost in class or your notes make very little sense to you.
  • You’ve missed a few classes and are behind. If possible, notify a professor (well ahead of time) when you plan on missing a class. Emergencies occur, but it’s unfair to take up their time just because you played video games all night and slept through your morning classes.
  • You’re not completing assignments, and as a result, sabotaging your grades.
  • You’re spending a lot of time trying to complete homework and assignments.
  • You’re trying hard, but still not happy with the grades you’re receiving.
  • You’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • You want to give up and drop the class.

About the author

Phil Smyres
CEO and Founder of
I graduated from Ohio State University, and I’ve been in Columbus, OH ever since. In 1994, I started buying and selling books on campus with two brick and mortar stores. Those stores have since closed but has remained a premier online retailer for all your textbook needs. During this time, we’ve also added two additional online retailers, and

My interests include spending time with my family, traveling everywhere and watching Ohio State football.