Having trouble? Talk to your profs

Don’t assume your teachers don’t care because they don’t chase you down


I’ve never liked asking teachers for help. There’s something I’ve always found uncomfortable about asking anything more than whether I’ve picked a suitable topic for an essay. But learning to ask for help can be extremely important for new university students.

Related: To impress a prof

In high school if you missed an assignment your teachers probably noticed, they probably even spoke to you. Don’t expect this in university. Many classes don’t have regular assignments and even in those that do, your professors probably aren’t going to say anything. It might be easy to make the assumption that they don’t care, but that isn’t usually the case. The fact is you’re an adult now and they expect you to take responsibility for your work, it’s not their job to track down missing assignments.

A couple years ago I fell behind in an assignment-heavy class. My program has a policy that late assignments would not be accepted and I didn’t think to ask whether exceptions could be made. Looking at the remaining assignments and their mark values I realized that passing the class would be almost impossible and, in view of impending failure, I discontinued the class.

Last year, I got into a similar situation. I had fallen behind in a workshop class. Passing would be extremely difficult and there was no chance of getting a good mark. But this time I decided to talk to the professor, who agreed to accept the assignments I’d missed with the caveat that some marks would be deducted for lateness. While my final mark wasn’t perfect, it was higher than it would have been if I hadn’t talked to the professor.

Sure, talking to your professors won’t solve every academic problem but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Just because something is the policy of your program doesn’t mean it’s written in stone.


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