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Helping Your Student Ask for Help

Countless numbers of people have a tough time asking for help — even the most seasoned professionals. For some reason, asking for help makes many people feel weak or vulnerable. Let's view asking for help in a different light: strength of character. Those who have the courage to ask for help show that they aren't afraid to admit that they don't know everything. Sometimes, especially when they are really struggling, students forget that those who work on campus expect that students don't know everything. So ... that means that these very same professionals expect that they'll ask for help.

That being said, how does one who isn't the most comfortable asking for help go about doing so? Consider sharing these thoughts with your student as he prepares for school this fall.

  • Remember that even the best leaders have help. Even the President of the United States surrounds himself with the best staff he can. We don't view this as a weakness, do we? If he can ask for help, you most certainly can too.
  • Recognize your strengths and your limitations. Nobody is perfect. What do you do really well? In what areas do you typically struggle? Take stock of what you do well and let those around you know. This may help them feel more comfortable asking you for help when they need it. And find out what they do well so you can tap into their strengths too. Remember, no one can go at it alone. Teamwork is where it's at.
  • Be honest when you are in over your head. There will be times when you can't do everything alone. When this happens, be honest with yourself and others. Nobody can do it all and there will be times when you have to prioritize. When you communicate this to others, they are more likely to be supportive and understanding.
  • Take stock of the resources on hand. Campus communities are chock full of great folks! More often than not — no matter what the issue at hand — an expert can be found right in front of you who can offer assistance. Why not take advantage of this? You'll meet more people, you'll be learning more about your environment and you'll be healthier in the long run. It's a win-win-win for all involved.
  • Let others know when you've asked for help. Why hide it? When you let others see that you are willing to get help when you need it, you role model healthy behavior. Some folks really do have difficulty reaching out to others and admitting they need assistance. By being honest when you reach out, you are setting a great example for those around you.
  • Remind your student: When you help yourself, you are in the best position to help others. This simple mantra is a life lesson and as you well know, the earlier learned, the better.

Those who have the courage to ask for help show that they aren't afraid to admit that they don't know everything.


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