One Key to College Success? Good Relationships!

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math problem on a chalkboardBy Madeleine Darowiche, Teens Take Charge Advisory Council

One of the most important things you can do for yourself in college is to establish good relationships with your professors. I cannot stress that enough. Especially if you attend a larger university, during the first week of classes I would suggest going up to them and introducing yourself so that the professor can put a name with your face. If they know who you are early on, they will be more likely to help, should you need it, later on in the semester.

From my experience, most professors will be willing to help you, but you must be proactive and seek them out yourself. Here are some tips from my own personal experience to help you if you start struggling and/or falling behind.

  • Talk to them. Most professors will not do anything for you unless you go talk to them first. I understand how nerve wracking that can be, but in most cases, it will certainly be worth it. I have had a few professors who really haven’t been as helpful as I’d like, and when that happens, the best advice I can give is to keep on doing the best you can and work to your full potential; give it your all. That is honestly all you can do.
  • Seek some advice. If there is another staff member whom you are close with, such as an advisor, I would also suggest speaking with them and seeing what they have to offer for advice.
  • Use office hours. Something else I would suggest is to drop by during office hours. If you are unavailable when the professor you want to speak with has them, talk to them before or after class, and most will be more than happy to arrange an alternate time that works for both of you.
  • Attend class regularly. Each semester you will most likely have different experiences as professors’ personalities vary.  You will have some really awesome ones who go above and beyond to help students, and then you will have ones who just read directly off PowerPoint slides in class. Regardless of if the professor takes attendance or not, I would recommend attending class because it shows the professor that you are about your grades and want to do well.
  • Don’t wait until the end of the semester. I am thankful that I already knew how to talk to authority pretty well prior to going to college because it has definitely served me well. If a situation arises where you feel you should speak with a professor, go do it! Don’t hesitate or wait until the last few weeks of the semester. Remember, that is when everyone is trying to fix their grades, so it is much better to nip it in the bud right when you start noticing that you are struggling. Then there is enough time for you to hopefully bring your grade up before you no longer can.

Due to hydrocephalus, math has always been a challenge for me, like it is for many of us, but this semester I haven’t had to worry about that at all. My professor for math this semester has been tremendous. I chose not to tell her about my hydrocephalus, but she is aware of the accommodations I have in place. She has done everything in her power to help me succeed, but that works both ways. As I touched on earlier, if you know there is an area you struggle in, seek extra help as soon as you can. I go to this professor’s office hours nearly every day. Because I have remained diligent and dedicated, she is always willing to help me. Sometimes, I won’t understand the way something gets taught in class, so she will try to help me understand it in a different way if possible. I am currently doing very well in math, but it has taken a lot of hard work. With a little dedication, effort, and will, I know that all of you who also struggle with math or another subject can succeed as well. And while academics and your grades should always come first, there is still time to be with friends and enjoy your college experience. You can do this!  I hope my experience and tips help. Best of luck!


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