If you’re a college student, chances are you have had to deal with the bureaucracy at your school. Most colleges and universities have thousands of students studying a wide range of subjects, working towards a multitude of different degrees and certificates. The student body is made up of individuals with unique needs. Because of the layers of student life combined with many different areas of study, it’s inevitable that a school has many offices and departments. This blog post will help you navigate the bureaucracy at your school so that you can get your needs met.

Tip #1: Be prepared for a lot of walking and set aside at least an hour- It’s super annoying, but often when you are trying to get a need met such as transferring a credit, or changing your major, you will be required to go to several different offices. Likely, these offices will be scattered all over campus. Don’t assume you can get something taken care of between your classes. It’s best to get a need met when you are either done with class, or when you have a big chunk of time.

Tip #2: Be aware of office hours- Most administrative offices are open around 9-5, are closed from 12-1, and are closed on weekends. Keep that in mind.

Tip #3: Be polite- If you’re trying to get a need met, it’s going to make a world of difference if you are polite. Why would an administrator want to help you if you are texting on your phone? Go back to the basics: when you go into an office say “excuse,” “please,” “thank you,” and be pleasant overall.

Tip #4: Be direct- Although it’s important to be polite, it’s also important to remember that you pay tuition to your school, so you’re the customer. Saying something like, “Who do I need to talk to in order to get this taken care of today?” is acceptable.

Tip #5: Be understanding and patient- Know that during weeks around the beginning, middle, and end of terms a ton of students have administrative things to take care of. Many offices and departments will be crowded, and you may be required to schedule appointments to meet with staff. Administrators are often frazzled, and come across grumpy. Try to realize that they aren’t mean, they’re just very busy.

Tip #6: Be brave- Sometimes going into an administrative or faculty office can be intimidating. People who work in those offices can seem grumpy and unhelpful. You might not know if you’re even in the right office. However, remember that you’re a student, and it’s their job to help students. If you are polite and articulate what you need, you will be just fine.