Asking for help can present a conflict to some, whether it be due to stubbornness, pride, or a fear of bothering or burdening somebody else. Unfortunately, bottling or ignoring your problems will only result in them mounting until they return to bring you down. In the context of your academic life, neglecting to address your pitfalls will likely cumulate in struggling in class, slipping grades, and growing frustration as you feel very, very lost. There should be no shame in admitting to needing help and in fact, it is more than useful to know where to find assistance but firstly, it is crucial to be aware of when you need it.
In most instances, students know when they need help and will instinctively ask for it but in some cases, it is difficult to determine whether asking for help is the best use of one’s time and effort as opposed to finding the solution alone. The most common situation that compels students to ask for help is when they do not understand a concept or instruction. Here, there’s no doubt about it — speak up! It is infinitely better to seek out help and be given the immediate answer instead of floundering in the dark. It would also be a good idea to ask for help if you are unsure of something because confusion and unclarity can be as frustrating as not knowing the answers.
However, this dilemma is not always black-and-white and on certain occasions, it may be better to work towards a solution on your own. When you’re grappling with a task, it may sometimes be worth it to work through the issue and emerge from the other end with confidence in your problem-solving skills but at other times, the struggle may be futile. Begin by trying out the problem alone but should you hit a wall, do not spend too much time struggling, especially if you are unable to find the appropriate resources. These resources include information from websites, books, online tutorials, and other people. In the same vein, another scenario in which it is appropriate to ask for help without the fear of possibly pestering an authority figure is when nobody around you knows the answer. Before deferring to a teacher, some students will ask their friends or classmates for suggestions and this is especially useful if the teacher is unavailable or if you feel that you will not receive a satisfactory answer from them. At the same time, it is most likely that they are the best source of knowledge from which to find the answers to your questions.
When you eventually do, the best way to reach out to a teacher is the simplest: speak to them directly in class. If this is not possible due to a lack of time, an absence, or sheer busyness, contact them through email, which should be made available to you. If you do not know their email address, do not hesitate to ask for this information. Another option is to arrange an appointment after class or whenever your teacher is available. This approach will allow for unhurried one-on-one interaction and for both of you to directly identify the areas in which you struggle, that is, if your teacher is willing — and they should. One of the main reasons to not fear asking for assistance is that most teachers are, in fact, happy to help. Furthermore, it can be beneficial to acknowledge and accept your struggles in addition to the fact that nobody has all of the answers all of the time. The more you (don’t) know!