Be confident; ask questions


Christina Browning

Although some students have difficulties asking questions in class, strategies exist for those in need of help.

Christina Browning, Multimedia Editor

A lot of my classmates seem terrified to ask their professors questions, even if they need the answers to pass an assignment or even the class.

Students deserve to have their questions answered, yet many are too scared to speak up and ask them.

Professors appreciate it when students ask questions. It lets professors know students really care about their education and are making a genuine effort to succeed.

English professor Simon Ward recalls an anxious student who was afraid to ask questions. The student missed several assignments and skipped classes because he hadn’t done his work.

So Ward took the lead and asked the student a question: How can I help you?

You don’t have to wait for your professor to ask you if you need help. Go ahead and be the one to ask.

Here are seven tips for mustering up the courage to ask—and for asking the right way.

1. Know what you need help with before you ask for it. Pinpoint your trouble spots. Write down your questions so you can stay focused and on track during your conversation with your professor.

2. Do not wait until your deadline to ask questions. Give yourself time in case you have more questions as you complete the assignment, Ward said. And realize that your professor might not be available if you wait until the last minute to ask for help.

3. Overcome your fear. “There are no stupid questions,” said May graduate Briston Fernandez, who works part-time at Truxal Library and said he experienced anxiety with asking questions. “The worst question is the one you don’t ask.”

4. Practice asking your questions in the mirror or with peers before approaching your professor. Fernandez said that helped him build his confidence.

5. Never give up. Even if you feel the professor is brushing you off, keep asking your questions until you are satisfied. A professor’s job is to teach and answer questions, or at least point you to the answers.

6. If your professor has given you a cell phone number or email address, use it. You don’t have to save your questions for office hours.

7. Asking for help can be a compliment. It implies you value your professor’s knowledge. Third-year architecture major Rachel Janovsky said she felt embarrassed asking questions during her first semester. Then she realized the professor genuinely wanted to help her succeed and appreciated her questions.