Let’s travel back in time to my first semester at college. I was newly married, two thousand miles from home, going to a college where I did not know a single person. The day I went to schedule classes, I didn’t even know which building to go to or how many buildings there were. I just found a building that looked fairly important, went inside, and asked someone behind a desk where Professor WhatsHisName’s office was. She pointed me in a different direction, so I went into that building, asked another lady behind a desk, and eventually found the guy.
Later in my college career, I had the opportunity to work in a job where I got to help a professor in an English class. Semester after semester, the new freshmen coming in would have the same mentality.
They would somehow think that everyone else knew how to do the whole college thing, but that they didn’t. They would come to me after class and ask me where the bookstore was or how to drop a class or how to use their school email, but they would be so embarrassed and down on themselves, as if they were stupid and should somehow (magically) know the answer to that.
To a certain extent, the most successful college students weren’t necessarily the smartest. They were the most willing to ask questions, even when they felt like they were the only ones who didn’t know the answer.
(By the way, you’re NOT the only one who doesn’t know the answer)
I remember in my first college math class, the professor gave us a take-home test the first day of class and said that all of the concepts were things we “should already know.”
I didn’t even know what the question was asking. I consulted Google. I consulted YouTube. Finally, I decided I wasn’t going to let my pride cause me to fail a class, so I decided to consult a tutor. It was a very difficult walk for me to the tutoring center. It was humbling in the most necessary way.
This was a memorable and life-changing moment, though. I could have saved myself a few hours of agonizing confusion if I would have just swallowed my pride and asked the question to a tutor in the first place.
So, whether it’s asking a staff member where the closest vending machine is or asking the professor to clarify something, my best advice for a new college student is simple:
I think this advice is a good reminder for anyone in any walk of life. You should never, ever be afraid of asking a question.
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge” -Thomas Berger
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