At the collegiate level, meeting with your professors is crucial to your academic success.  While their primary purpose is to teach you the course subject matter, they are undoubtedly rooting for your success in their class as well.  Unfortunately, if you are struggling, they will likely be unable to assist you unless sought out.  For college professors, particularly those in a large classroom setting, it can be arduous to differentiate between when a student is struggling with comprehending the material, and when the student’s struggles stem from a lack of motivation.  If the former is the case, reach out to them; apprise the professor of your need for additional help.  

College is significantly different than high school.  High school is generally easier, class sizes are typically smaller, and its teachers are far more likely to seek you out when you are struggling.  Conversely, with attending college comes higher standards that can be challenging to meet.  So, approach your professors early and often; they want to help you!

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I was able to fully grasp the benefits of attending my professors’ office hours.  As my sophomore year was on the horizon, I felt more comfortable and confident going into my second year.  That was until I met with my advisor (which is also incredibly important to do) to finalize my first semester schedule.  According to her, it was time to begin tackling my “Scientific Ways of Knowing” requirements.  At my university, Geology 101 was considered to be the easiest science course offered, colloquially referred to as “rocks for jocks.”  Admittedly, science is not my forte; so, I opted out of biology and chemistry and pursued the rocks instead.  My professor was new to teaching, but his level of knowledge on the subject matter made up for his inexperience.  He was brilliant and very passionate about geology.  I, unfortunately, was not as enthusiastic.  Regardless of my lack of interest, I attended every class, took notes, read the material before class, and met classmates to study with. And yet, I was still falling behind – and doing so quickly.  I had never tried so hard in a class and done so poorly; until Geology 101, I assumed that grades and effort were directly correlated.  Needless to say, I was frustrated and discouraged.

By midterms, Geology 101 was the lowest grade I had received in my academic career, followed closely by high school ‘Team Sports.’  At this point I was aggravated, yet determined.  I began meeting with my professor twice a week to receive private tutoring. As he was able to see the effort I was putting into his class first hand, my professor became more sympathetic, knowing that my low grade was not due to a lack of motivation, but instead a lack of understanding. By the end of the semester I was able to raise my grade, and as a result, my lowest grade is still, embarrassingly, high school ‘Team Sports’.

Moral of the story: get to know your professors.  Show them you care, that you are willing to learn and make a concerted effort.  Remember, every class matters and every grade counts; make the time needed to gain the outcome desired.

Contributed by Jamie Jackson, Education Coach at Northwest College Support