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How to Get Help from Your Professor

How to Get Help from Your Professor

Asking for help can sometimes be a difficult task. Half of the students don’t have habit of asking questions to their teacher when they need help and it’s those students who get lower grades. In fact, it's important to seek help rather than let problems fester and intensify. So, how do you approach a professor for one-on-one time? First, let's look at common reasons students seek assistance.


What are the common reasons you might seek out professors for assistance?


  • You've fallen behind in class because of illness.
  • You've failed a test or assignment and do not understand the course material.
  • You have questions about the requirements of a given assignment.
  • You need advice on the subject.
  • You need clarification on  schedules


Why Do Students Avoid Professors Help?


Sometimes students avoid asking for assistance or meeting with their professors because they're embarrassed or intimidated. What are common anxieties experienced by students?

  • Feeling "out of the loop" after missing several classes
  • Fear of asking a "dumb question"
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Shyness
  • Discomfort over approaching a professor of a different age, gender, race, or culture
  • If you're going to progress as a student  and especially if you wish to attend graduate school,  you must set your intimidation aside and ask for the help that you need.


How to approach your professor / How to Get Help from Your Professor


Ask yourself: Is this urgent? If so, then try to contact by phone. Otherwise, you can try e-mail. Sending an email is a good way to ask questions to your teacher because the teacher will respond when they have time. This means you might get a betterresearched, more informative answer than if you asked them during the lesson. Wait a few days for a response remember that teaching is a professor's job, so don't expect replies over evenings, weekends, or holidays.




Check the schedule for the professor's office hours before you make your request. If the professor requests that you return at another time, do your best to meet at a time which is convenient for him/her.  Don't ask a professor to meet you at a time that is inconvenient  for them because professors have many more responsibilities than teaching ( Meetings within the department, university, and community).




Asking is the only way to learn your professor's preferences. Say something like, "Professor , I need a few minutes of your time so that you can help me with a question/problem. Is this a  good time, or can we set up something that is more convenient for you?" Keep it short and to the point.




If you are worried to talk with your professor, prepare a list of your questions before.  Be efficient and try to accomplish everything in one meeting, rather than coming back again with further questions. Try to Bring your class notes & syllabus with you to refer to. If you need to refer to a textbook, bookmark the pages that you will need to refer to so you can get them quickly.  Come prepared to take notes . Notes will help you record and remember the responses to your questions and prevent you from asking the same questions later in the course.




Be punctual. Punctuality signifies respect for your professor's time. Do not arrive early or late. Most professors are pressed for time. If you need to meet with your professor again, ask him /her if you can set up another appointment, following the suggestions above. Use the appropriate form of address. Unless your professor has indicated otherwise, address him or her by last name and with the appropriate title ( Professor, Doctor). Show some gratitude. Always thank the professor for his/her time and express any gratitude that you feel is appropriate for the specific help that  has provided by them. 

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