Ask for Help

When Barry the Study Dog needs help, he doesn’t hesitate to send up the BatDog signal.

Study Skills Series: The first Monday of every month, we give timely, practical, and original study skills advice. Timely means it’s especially useful during that month of the school year. Practical means it’s easy to act on. Original means we wrote it ourselves and you can only get it here.

The first term is about halfway over, meaning now is a great time to start asking for help if you haven’t been doing so already.

To quote a former student of mine who was really good about asking for help when he needed it, “If you don’t know something, you don’t know something.”

If you don’t know something, ask for help. Even if you’re just a little bit unsure about whether you know something, ask for help. And if you know you know the stuff, help everybody who wants to be helped.

For fun, I’ve occasionally worked at my colleague Nancy Levonian’s college application camp because it attracts some of the smartest kids in the country.

In that setting, there might be two instructors and as few as eight students in the room who might be applying to Ivy League schools, Stanford, Caltech, and MIT. There’s plenty of time for everyone to get plenty of help, but who gets the most help?

Is it the smartest kid? No.

Is it the most accomplished kid? No.

Is it the kid who needs the most help? No.

It’s the kid who asks for help the most often; the relentlessly hungry kid who won’t stop asking for help until they know that they’ve done the best job they possibly can on the assignment.

Last week we talked about the importance of office hours and how the value of visiting your instructors in their offices extends far beyond getting your questions answered.

But what if you’re one of the many students who is just never gonna go to office hours? Where else can you ask for help when you’re not sure whether you’ve mastered a concept?

Try these: Google, YouTube, Khan Academy, Bozeman Science, Grammarly, Hemingway app, Purdue OWL, Noodle Tools, your school’s tutoring center, your smartest friend, your most academically-minded friend, your most generous friend, and – as a last resort – your parents.

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