When and How to Ask for Help in College

A Wayne State University student offers three tips on how to ask for help in college. After all, independence doesn't mean taking the world on by yourself.

Photo of the author, Rebecca Berger, with a stalk of Brussels sprouts

Growing up, the idea of independence thrilled me. I had romantic notions of going off to college, never having to ask my mom to set up a doctor’s appointment or help me with my homework ever again. I thought adulthood meant having everything figured out and not having to rely on anyone to get anything done.

I did accept my parents’ generous offer to financially back my education, but beyond that, I was determined to do it all on my own – and it took me a long time, and many bumps in the road, to realize how impractical that was.

There are resources everywhere for college students, and many of us are fortunate enough to have an established support system at home.

No man is an island, and if you try to be one, you’ll likely end up like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Here are a few tips about how to be independent while accepting help.

1. Take advantage of health resources

Did you know that if your parents have health insurance, you have coverage until you turn 26? There are health clinics available on most college campuses that offer both physical and mental health services. Head in to get vaccinations, prescriptions filled or just get a well check.

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Remember the importance of your mental health, too. Studies show that college students often suffer from depression, anxiety and increased suicidal thoughts. There are counselors and call lines available day and night to help you get through this tumultuous time.

2. Figure out your work-life balance

Getting five hours of sleep a night, being a caffeine addict, dedicating yourself to a full-time job and 14 credit hours – these are NOT things to brag about. College culture tends to focus on the idea of being dedicated to “the hustle,” but if you live like this, you’re going to burn out.

Don’t overpack your schedule, and if you do, make sure you depend on your circle to get through the craziness. Be honest with family and friends when they ask where the heck you’ve been – and when they ask if there’s anything they can do to help, say YES.

Being independent with your time management means depending on your support system when you feel overworked.

3. Find an academic and professional mentor

I waited a long time to connect with my professors, and that was a mistake. They are not just there to grade your essays and exams; they want you to succeed.

If you take a class that particularly inspires you or you know that your professor has contacts in organizations where you’re interested in working – stay in touch with them. If you work on building a professional relationship, you will have a resource to reference throughout your student career and after you graduate.

As Ned Stark says, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” Getting through college can be a lot like surviving a winter in Game of Thrones – it’s scary and uncertain and everyone around you looks like a zombie.

Luckily, there are people all around you who will lend a hand. This is your time to figure out who your pack is and let them help you succeed.

Rebecca Berger is a senior at Wayne State University in Detroit. She is currently studying journalism and previously studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

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