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Navigating your time at college can be a challenge, especially within your first year. You might be in a new city, surrounded by people you don’t know, trying to balance your social life alongside school and possibly work. College can be challenging as is, but all of those factors make it even more difficult.

Having just returned to college after finishing my undergrad in 2020, I’ve been re-learning how to navigate classwork and be a student again after more than a year away from school. While some of it has proven to be easy to jump back into, there are other things that have been a bit of a struggle. For example, going from writing these articles for you every day into writing an academic essay required a complete flip in my mindset.

There were certain habits I formed as a student that I’ve had to unlearn in order to be better at this more informal, casual style of writing. Now, after forming new habits attached to the way I write for work, I have to re-learn my old academic habits and focus extra hard on APA formatting.

During my struggles with this, I remembered the one thing that I wish I took advantage of sooner in my academic journey. One thing that I think every student needs to do in order to find the most success in school is to reach out to your teachers.

I know that seems like really basic advice, but hear me out. Everyone knows that their teachers are there to help them, but they don’t always take advantage of the time they set aside during their day to help you. They have office hours for a reason, and they want you to use them.

Rather than waiting until you’re failing or there is some sort of emergency, form that relationship early on. Get to know them, let them get to know you, and ask them questions. Whether you reach out through email, zoom, or in person, forming that connection is incredibly helpful.

I just met with my professor over zoom the other day in order to talk about the formatting issues I’ve been having. I simply wanted to get a refresher on what was expected of me, and he was more than happy to provide the support I needed. I wasn’t failing anything, I am overall doing well in his course, I just wanted to know how I can improve in order to benefit my education in the long run. I also now know that I can reach out to him with any questions or concerns without feeling nervous about it.

Your teachers and professors are there to help, and I promise you will find much more success in school if you reach out and connect with them.

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