Reaching out for help with your course work

Asking for help can be difficult, especially for adults returning to college. If you’ve ever had a hard time asking for help, just remember the following:

  1. Asking for help is a way to be proactive about learning.
  2. Asking for help shows the instructor you are invested in your learning and want to do well.
  3. Instructors and support specialists want to help you, not judge you.

If you think that getting a little support can help you get that assignment completed or help you get a better grade on an upcoming test, go ahead and ask for it. After all, you are paying for your courses with your hard-earned money, and your goal is to do well, right? The hardest part is reaching out for the first time. It is important that you recognize the signs of possibly needing assistance with course work, and not waiting until the last minute to ask for it.

How to recognize you might need help

  • You are having difficulty completing your assignments on time.
  • You are behind in your reading.
  • Despite your best efforts, you just can’t find enough time to devote to your course work.
  • You are not sure how to complete the given assignment.
  • You would like some ideas on how to study for quizzes and exams.
  • You did not score as well as you had hoped on your first quiz/exam.

What you can do to help yourself

Set short-term benchmarks

  • Take the time to break down weekly assignments into manageable chunks.
  • If it is Monday and you need to read 70 pages by Friday, that breaks down to 14 pages a day.
  • If you need to read and respond to at least three discussion posts, that breaks down to one every other day.

Contact your instructor

  • The best person to help you is the one teaching the course.
  • Does your instructor offer online “office hours”? If so, make an appointment to discuss what you are having difficulty with. If not, send the instructor an email explaining your issues and asking for an individual meeting
  • If you need more time to complete an assignment due to a life issue, ask the instructor!
    • Instructors know that life sometimes gets in the way.
    • Instructors might be willing to be flexible if they know about your situation as early as possible. But it’s ultimately up to the instructor to decide.
    • Talk with your instructor BEFORE the deadline. This will show that you’re being proactive and that you care about your own success — which your instructor will appreciate.

Contact your academic adviser

  • Your adviser has a wealth of knowledge. He or she can offer suggestions based on your specific needs.

Here is a list of support resources where you can find help:

Everyone at Penn State World Campus wants to see you reach your goals. We are here to help you achieve success in any way we can. All you need to do is ask.