Ask Millie: Distressed Daphne


Dear Millie: 

How do I approach a professor about a subject I’m struggling with? I don’t want my professor to think that I haven’t been paying attention in class, but I really don’t understand the subject at all. I’m trying my hardest to figure out a way to ask for help, but I’m embarrassed. What should I do? 


– Distressed Daphne 

Hey Daphne,

I know it can be a bit intimidating to reach out to a professor, but just know that they have your best interests in mind, and their office hours are here for a reason. A lot of professors are super understanding, especially in these troubling times. You may think that your professors will look down on you for needing a little assistance, but I can assure you, that is rarely the case. Professors understand that people aren’t perfect little machines that soak in all the information they hear. You aren’t a sponge. So rest assured that your professor isn’t going to assume you’re slacking off. 

Sometimes, it takes a little extra time or a different way of explaining to really understand something. I can’t begin to describe how many times I struggled with reading long textbook passages and tended to get a bit lost when we discussed assigned readings in class, but I decided to ask my professor for tips to retain class readings. 

Feel free to send your professor an email about the subject that’s confusing you, or just drop into their in-person or zoom office hours (depending on the professor or your preference). Asking for help can be challenging. Trust me, I know it; However, you should never be embarrassed to admit that you don’t quite understand something. It’s important to feel comfortable in your learning space as well. I’m sure your professor would be more than happy to help. 

Yours truly,