Q: How can I ask for help from a classmate?
I remember my freshman year. The start of spring semester was great. I enjoyed seeing friends again and being back on my own after Christmas with my family. But then, it happened. There was that first assignment in English II, and I had no idea what the professor was looking for. It’s paralyzing when the Heart takes control of your Head, and your Hands don’t know what to do.
I didn’t know anyone in that class, and I was afraid of asking questions. I didn’t want the professor to think I was one of those who doesn’t pay attention, and I didn’t want my peers to think I was the mooch trying to get free answers. But, most of all, I did not want to start the semester with a bad grade.
We all face times where we need help from a classmate. And it’s sometimes difficult to ask for help from people you don’t know. If you find yourself in that situation, keep the following in mind.
1. Look Up! & build connections early. Get to class before the professor arrives. Then ask the people around you about their weekends or how their classes are going. Small talk seems trivial, but it’s the first step in building connection with others. Your classmates might not become your new BFFs, but they’ll know who you are.
2. Ask good questions. It’s usually easier to ask questions of people you know. Once you’ve connected, ask them about their perspectives on what you’re reading for class. Find out if your neighbor has started the next paper, or enquire about how they understood the day’s lecture. Little questions along the way open doors for bigger questions later.
3. Use your resources. Having connected with your classmates, it’ll be easier to ask for help. Be specific when you ask, as it will help your classmate help you. “Hey, Ana! Can you help me understand this concept? I don’t think I fully get it.” More often than not, you’ll find that your peers at JBU are willing to help you out.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also tell you to talk with your professors! Your instructors are here to help you. But they won’t know what you have questions about unless you ask. Don’t do what I did. My freshman year, I transferred into Honors English II, just because I already knew two people in that class. I thought that would help, but I was in over my head. Learn from my mistake. I should have taken English II and connected with new classmates, rather than staying up late and losing sleep struggling to write papers for Dr. Stratman.