Now that I’m about halfway done with my junior year of college, there are a few things that I wish I had done differently. I went into college pretty unsure about what I wanted to do with my life, like plenty of other students. There are a few small things I did in college so far that I would definitely go back and change. I wish that I declared a major as soon as I knew what I wanted to study, rather than waiting. I also regret not taking summer classes while I had the opportunity. Both of those are just minor regrets, especially when I look at the big picture.
However, the biggest mistake that I’ve made in college was not asking for help. I’ve always prided myself on my independence, especially when it comes to my future, so I was convinced that I did not need anyone else’s help.
As college students, we have a lot of additional resources available to us while we are in school. Now is the time that people are actually willing to help us out. All you have to do is ask, but there are so many of us that simply do not. I know that I’m not the only one who refused to ask for help in the beginning, but I hope that others do not make the same mistakes that I did. The people that I wish I had asked for help from much sooner are my professors, academic advisors, alumni and my peers.
This semester has been the first that I have participated constantly in all of my classes. I was previously the girl who sat in the back and kept to herself. In September, I walked into class and sat in the front. By simply sitting in the front and participating in classroom discussions, your professors will notice you.
Believe it or not, they actually want you to do well in class! They have office hours to help you with your assignments, but they might even be able to help guide your career too. Professors often have many years of experience in their industry, so they know all of the tips and tricks that will get you on the right path.
Ask them about how they got started right after they graduated college. Do they have any advice for you that they wish someone had told them in college? Were they involved in an organization that helped them land their first job? One educated conversation with a professor will help you in more ways than you originally thought.
During my freshman year of college, I didn’t quite have the greatest advisor. Maybe he was just new or something, but he knew nothing about the programs that the school offered. I left feeling like I wasted my time, so obviously I did not meet with my advisor ever again. Even though I have since been assigned a new advisor within my major, I just recently met him for the first time.
All of the questions you have about classes, graduating and the real world can be answered by your advisor, so they’re definitely worth a visit. Definitely find out if your advisor has any recommendations on classes to take next semester. You can also ask them to make sure you’re on track to complete all of your credits on time (or early!). Need help with something on campus? Your advisor is aware of all campus resources, so they can connect you to the right people to get you exactly the assistance you need. They can also help plan out the rest of your time in college. All you have to do is ask for help!
Alumni and Peers
Most college campuses also have a program to connect current students with alumni of the school. Meeting with an alumni of the school who recently graduated is the perfect way to figure out possible career paths. They will tell you exactly what the real world is like, where you’ll have a lot more responsibilities, along with 40-plus hours of work a week. Ask them about what they concentrated on while in college, when they started applying for jobs and if they have any general advice for you.
Asking for help from your peers is another way that will benefit you. Chances are, you’re all going through the same struggles, so why not get through it together? Try brainstorming with your peers next time you have a huge project coming up. You can even join organizations with each other if you have the same interests. If a classmate made a presentation that you absolutely loved, tell them and ask them how they researched for it! Your peers should be the easiest people to ask for help, as they are in the same position as you.
Although not asking for help is the biggest career mistake I made in college, I am not going to let it ruin my career. Passion and hard work go a long way, so I genuinely hope that other college students do not make the same career mistake that I did. Your professors, academic advisors, alumni and peers are all there for a reason. Asking for help will not make you weak, it will help you improve yourself and further your education and career.