While college courses are usually stimulating and enjoyable, they are also much more challenging than those you took in high school. You may have aced chemistry in grades 11 and 12, but find the material you're learning in your freshman chemistry course doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The professor goes too fast, there are too many assignments, and the quizzes are impossible. Don't panic! First of all, you're not alone. Most first-year college students get somewhat of a shock during their first semester. College is more challenging, but it doesn't have to be impossible. The important thing is to ask for help and get caught up before you run the risk of failing the course. Thankfully, there are numerous tutoring resources available to you, most likely right on campus.
On-Campus TutoringMost colleges offer this type of service. Best of all, since the tutors are paid by the school, students who qualify can often take advantage of this service without paying a fee. Take advantage of this service to get caught up on course material, and have the tutor clarify any confusing concepts. Remember, the tutor should be guiding you, not completing the work for you.
ProfessorsMany professors designate office hours when they will be available to meet with students and answer questions. However, whether or not they actually like to see students knocking on their door is a different story. Professors often use office hours for research and personal pursuits, and therefore may be upset when they are disturbed. Ask around with other students to decide whether approaching your professor with questions is a good idea. If it seems that your professor is less than welcoming towards students who show up during office hours, try to figure out questions on your own or with the help of classmates before you approach the professor. If you must go see him or her, pinpoint exactly what you are having trouble with and be prepared to ask specific questions. Professors will generally react much better to the statement, "I'm confused about Boyle's Law" than they will to "I don't understand anything."
If your professor seems to enjoy office hour consultations, by all means feel free to show up to discuss course material and request extra help. Developing a good relationship with a professor is always a wise idea, one that may benefit you down the road. In addition to getting a better mark in that specific class, you may also get a valuable recommendation for an internship, graduate school, or even a job.
Last Updated: 04/24/2014