I am a university student who’s in the middle of those last weeks before the period ends that can be described as ‘hell on racehorse steroids’ and I’m failing one of my subjects. I feel super s***ty about, to the point that I haven’t seen my last evaluations (only the grade) but I know I have to get over my hurt and fear to see what I’m getting wrong and take advantage of my last ditch chance at passing this subject. Everyone tells me the professor I got is great, I do enjoy her classes, I don’t think she’ll be mad at me for asking for help, but I’m really embarrassed about my poor performance.
So cap, from your perspective as an educator, how do I get over my resistance to asking for help, I’m well aware it’s a largely irrational fear to ask a professor for guidance, it is their job after all. Any good strategies for communicating effectively with educators, professor, etc? Much appreciated.
The fluncky chicken
Hi Fluncky Chicken
1) Go to class, if humanly possible. You only get further behind when you shame-hide. Go to class.
2) If your school has counseling and/or study skills/tutoring resources, it’s time to check them out. They are there to support you and there’s no time like the present to call in the cavalry.
3) Figure out when your professor’s office hours are and plan to go, and/or make an appointment with her.
4) Before that meeting time, spend one hour doing your best to figure out what kind of help you might need. To do this: Look at the syllabus again, read your grades/evaluations, re-read the work you’ve done so far. Make yourself very familiar with the work left to complete in the semester.
Do you understand where you could improve? For example, do you need a deadline extension on a particular project? Do you need tutoring or a study buddy to help you pass an exam? Would you like a chance to re-do a particular assignment/paper/quiz for a higher grade? Do you need a particular concept re-explained? If you have to write a paper or do a final project, do you know that the topic will be?
If you had to sum up what you’ve learned so far in the class (despite performing poorly) in a short paragraph, could you?
You may not come up with neat answers in that time, but the more prepared you are when you go to the professor, the more she can target help your way. You’ll have a more productive discussion with her, and you’ll be able to demonstrate that you care about the subject and self-aware about what you need to do.
5) Then go talk to her. She’s just a person. Her job is to help people understand things. If there’s a way for you to bring your grade up between now and the end of the term, she’ll do her best to guide you there. If there isn’t, hopefully she’ll tell you plain. That can be a relief in itself.
True story: I failed a required course in undergrad. Then I took it again the next year and got an A. Nobody – no employer, no grad school committee, really nobody except my parents – has ever, ever been bothered by it. It felt like the end of the world at the time and it definitely challenged my idea of myself as A Good Student, but honestly it has never mattered professionally in any way. I know that can get tricky with scholarships/financial aid for some folks, but overall patterns matter more than one class. If you fail this course, it’s probably okay to take it again some other time when you have more resources to devote to it. You’ll almost certainly do better the second time around.