“I need help.”
Three simple words, but for many, they’re hard to say. Life gets overwhelming at times, especially if you’re going back to school on top of balancing other adult responsibilities. Some people see asking for help as a matter of pride, and won’t do it because they feel like it signifies failure on their part. We live in a “fake it ‘til you make it” culture, and that pride tries to take over even when we know we need help.
However, asking for help when you’re overwhelmed shows that you know your limits. It’s easy to get frustrated by all the extra stress and time commitments caused by college coursework. Asking for help can strengthen you as a student and ensure you turn in the best work possible.
“Never be afraid to ask for help,” said Samantha Porter, Florida Tech Program Advisor. “More people than you think are cheering you on.”
Make sure to surround yourself with a good support network for when times get tough and you need someone to turn to. Asking for help shows a strong sense of self-awareness and takes courage. Don’t feel like it’s a weakness if you need it – embrace the opportunity as a chance to grow and succeed as a student while learning from others around you.
You have so many resources available as an online student, and several of them are outlined below.
Ask Other Students for Help
When courses begin, connect with some fellow students and establish a rapport with them.
Yvell Simmons, Class of 2014, for example, started a women’s group that includes students, full-time workers, wives and single moms.
“We get together once a month to ‘vent,’ share resources and ideas on how to stay focused, and just regroup on life and what we want out of our many struggles in life,” she said.
Other students can relate to your struggles, and be empathetic to your needs. If you have a question on an assignment, they may be able to help you, or vice versa. Asking them for help allows the chance to collaborate, if the assignment permits it.
Reach Out to Your Instructor
Don’t be afraid to speak with your instructor, either. They want you to succeed, and will help you as best as they can if you’re feeling lost or confused. It’s important to communicate with your instructor on a regular basis. Just because it’s an online course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t connect with your instructor just like you would in an on-campus setting.
One of Florida Tech’s online instructors, Jarin Eisenberg, spoke in this article about students asking for help and said, “Seek help! We have so many resources here at Florida Tech to assist students. I think students have to take a step back and ask themselves, ‘Is this difficult for me because I am struggling with the content or is this difficult for me because I am having trouble managing my time and understanding what is expected of me?’”
Utilize Online Resources
Most colleges also have online tutoring programs that you can utilize for free if you’re struggling with an assignment or course concept. Additionally, there are several online tutoring sites you can access for a charge. Florida Tech, for example, offers many options on its student support page, and Florida Tech students can use smarthinking.com for tutoring options. The online library and LMS are also valuable assets. Florida Tech’s blog also offers many resources and tips for success, such as this article about discussion board success, and this article about staying motivated in an online course.
Call Your Student Services Representative
Contact your assigned student services representative with any questions or if you need some encouragement. They are available to assist you anytime and provide support during your time as a student. They can help you with registering for classes, ordering textbooks and paperwork issues.
“The best help you can be to a new student is making sure they understand how much help they really have and where to find it,” said Florida Tech student services representative Matthew Kowalcyzk. “This is not limited to a student’s first term. We review any concerns the student has about their class that term and determine how to overcome the issue.”
Florida Tech also offers 24/7 technical support if any issues arise with your online classroom.
Turn to Family and Friends for Assistance
Request help from family or friends if you need extra time to complete an assignment. If you know a big exam is coming up and you have kids, ask a family member if they’d mind taking the kids for a few hours so you can study and prepare.
Ed Herd, who graduated from Florida Tech with a BA in applied psychology, recaps in this piece how his wife helped him make it through his degree.
“Balancing work, family and school was a challenge. Luckily, my wife would be sure to allow me quiet time for tests and writing papers by managing three kids for hours with no help. Sometimes it would be hard finding time between two jobs and family matters, but I got it done.”