Wood backdrop, question mark, Polaroids reading when, where, how, why, what

How to Ask for and Get Important Help in College

It can be tough to know where to go if you feel in over your head as an undergraduate. Here's a guide to finding help in college, from academic to emotional.

College can be an exciting time in your life. For many students, it’s the first time they’re on their own—living away from Mom and Dad and making some big decisions about their future. But it can also be overwhelming for these same reasons and many more—challenging classes in unfamiliar subjects, demanding professors, roommate issues, and, yes, homesickness. With all the new situations you face as an undergrad, it can be tough to know where to go, what to do, or who to turn to if you’re feeling in over your head.

Luckily, colleges have plenty of resources to help students navigate the often-rocky road of campus life. Whatever your situation, there is someone on campus who can help you figure out a solution to your problem or just let you blow off some steam. From your dorm’s resident assistant (RA) to the chaplain, staff members want you to have a great college experience, and their job is to help you succeed. Rather than feeling alone with your worry and anxiety, use the help available to you on campus.

Academic help

Unless you took Advanced Placement or college-level courses in high school, your new intense workload will be a big adjustment. If you took one or two college courses in high school, multiply that amount of work by five or six classes. Reading assignments differ drastically between high school and college. In college, many professors assign long reading passages for discussion in the next class. Students share their own interpretation of the assignment or the professor will ask a question to get the conversation started, and the discussion flows from class participation. If you skipped those reading assignments in high school and do the same in college, you won’t have much to contribute. Worse yet, not doing the reading early on might hurt you later in the semester when the work gets more difficult or builds on what was covered in the first few weeks. But if you’re keeping up with the assignments—reading or otherwise—and are still having trouble, speak up before you fall hopelessly behind. Don’t be afraid to approach your professor and talk with them. Sometimes it’s easier to explain a concept when you’re one-on-one, and maybe they can give better examples or explain something more thoroughly.

If you’ve been struggling with the material or your papers haven’t met the professor’s standards, it might be time to seek outside help. Ask your classmates if there’s a study group you could join (or start one!) or visit the school’s tutoring or writing center. Maybe you need better note-taking or organizational skills or your learning style doesn’t mesh with the professor’s teaching style. For instance, if you’re a visual learner who grasps information better when it’s written or drawn and your professor lectures for an hour with no visuals, you’ll have to work with your tutor to develop new studying and learning habits. Dropping a class should always be a last resort—especially if it’s required for your major. Seek help before you take that step.

Related: Making the Most of Your Academic Advisor

Personal and emotional help

There’s more than just academic help available. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or just “not right,” you can speak with a professional counselor at your college’s health center, usually at no cost. Sure, Mom and Dad might only be a phone call or text away, but it can help to know there’s a sympathetic ear right on campus if you need it. College can be a tough adjustment all by itself, but if you’re dealing with personal issues that have nothing to do with school—such as family or relationship problems—it can impact your college life. The school’s counselors are trained and sessions are confidential, unless you’re at risk of harming yourself or someone else. You might only need one session or regular appointments for a few weeks. Depending on the issue, your counselor may refer you to another professional or your family doctor for additional help.

Related: Mental Health: What It Is and How You Can Find Help

Job search help

Most students don’t stop by the career services office until their senior year, but don’t wait that long! The career services staff can help you throughout your college career, whether you’re looking for summer jobs, internships, job shadowing opportunities, résumé assistance, or self-assessments and information about various professional paths if you aren’t sure of a major or career and need some guidance. This office also provides other opportunities like on-campus job fairs, recruitment events, résumé writing, job interview and business etiquette workshops, and connecting current students with alumni, which could lead to an interview or even a job! You can also meet with a career counselor one-on-one to discuss your professional goals and how they can help you meet them.

Some schools require students to meet with the career services staff before they graduate (if not before their senior year), but many don’t, so it’s up to you to take the initiative. If your post-college life is a big question mark, or you need some help meeting your professional goals, talk with someone in career services.

Related: 8 Reasons to Use the Career Center Before Senior Year

You might feel lost in the crowd on campus sometimes, but you don’t have to. College is all about growth, and it’s not always easy. College staff members are enthusiastic, empathetic, and truly concerned about students’ personal, professional, and academic well-being. No matter what you’re struggling with, you can find the help you need. Not sure where to start? Talk with your floor’s RA or hall director and they can direct you to the right office. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of knowing what help is available and where to find it. 

If you're looking for even more help on campus, check out our article 5 Great Campus Resources Students Should Know About.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Michael

Michael

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.

Victoria

Victoria

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Ruth Aguilar

Ruth Aguilar

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me by providing me with many scholarship opportunities and information about universities I want to attend. What I love about CollgeXpress is how it provides a variety of information, and as the first child attending a university next year, it has been very essential and helpful. I’m so grateful for this because the information provided by CollegeXpress has also helped me see that there are so many college opportunities, and it always informs me by email. In other words, CollegeXpress has been like a guide for me as a future college student.

College Matches