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Ask the Cougar

How to Ask For Help

Getting Help from Your Professors Made Easy: 6 Tips

Professors Help

With finals around the corner, now is the time many students realize they're not ready, or worse, they're woefully lost. But, admitting you're lost to the person who controls your destiny er… grade can be tough.

College of Charleston professors say they want to help students do well but so few students ever come see them. They've offered some advice to approach your professor and get the best results. 

1. Come during office hours.

Classrooms and lecture halls are often chaotic between class periods so they’re not an ideal place to chat with your professor – especially if you need to speak with your professor about your grade or confusion on a subject he or she may not want to discuss in front of other students. Additionally, professors have helpful resources in their offices they may not have in the classroom.

2. Plan your visit in advance.

Know when your professor hosts office hours (it’s usually on your syllabus) and be prepared to discuss specifics. Even if your specifics are still pretty broad, it’s better to name a few topics than to start by saying “I don’t get it.” Can't make office hours? Professors suggest scheduling an appointment.

3. Don't wait until finals week to ask for help.

When a professor receives an email from a student the night before an exam, it shows a lack of preparation. Know what you’re unclear on well before the exam (preferably before reading day) and ask immediately.

4. One email a day is enough.

If you have a question outside of office hours or if you’d like to make an appointment, certainly reach out to a professor via email – but then give him or her time to answer. Multiple emails regarding the same question won’t spur a faster response.

5. Try not to blame anyone (like your professor).

Introducing your issue with “you didn’t explain well,” does not make for an especially congenial relationship. Simply say, “I don’t understand…” to take blame out of the equation.

6. Ask for help because you want it.

Your professor wants you to do well, but that requires hard work on your part. Don’t stop by office hours just to look like you’re trying – you need to put forth effort to make the grade.


For any additional questions or to set up a tutoring appointment, visit the Center for Student Learning website. The Center for Student Learning provides comprehensive academic support programs for College of Charleston students as they strive for excellence in learning, while promoting student leadership and development through peer education experiences.