So you’ve just started your year here at the University of Illinois, and it’s not going as you planned. That calc class isn’t as easy as it was in high school or suddenly studying just doesn’t seem like it’s enough. You’ve failed your first test or quiz, or you just feel generally crappy about how things are going so far. What is there to do? The first step on your journey to not failing your classes is an easy one: talk to your professors.
Now right now, you may be sweating through your shirt. Well, you’re not alone. College professors are skilled scholars who’ve spent years in their chosen fields as well as in the world of academia. They’re probably well-traveled and have all this life experience, and that’s extremely intimidating. But the first thing you gotta remember with professors is that they’re people first. They were in the same spot a few years ago, looking up at some other professor with years of experience and priceless expertise in their chosen field. And they were probably just as freaked out as you. But these folks are just people with lives and jobs and families. You probably watch the same movies and TV shows or listen to the same music. So talk to your professors— it’ll help a bunch.
Okay … but how do I do that?
Office hours! Office hours are your best buddy, especially in classes you need help in. And if those times don’t fit your schedule, professors are often flexible and let you set up appointments outside of the allotted times. In office hours, you can ask them to go over concepts you don’t understand or ask for help on homework. Heck, some people even befriend their professors (which is something that certainly wouldn’t hurt when you need recommendations for internships or grad school).
But what if I like … befriend my teacher?!?!
Good? One other difference from secondary school to college is that there isn’t that degree of separation between teachers and students. As I’m sure you’ve seen, your teachers may swear in class or rant about climate change or ask to friend you on Pokemon Go. This may have also happened in high school, but it’s definitely a more frequent occurrence in college. Why? Because you’re an adult!! If they swear or go off on a political rant, they do it knowing that no one’s mom is gonna call up the principal or something. Teachers are allowed to actually be themselves around you. So totally go to office hours and befriend your professors. They’re probably really cool, or at the very least knowledgeable about a subject you’re interested in.
Go to office hours. I’m serious. Go right now. If you start now you might not even fail that first midterm of yours. Good Luck!