I am a words kind of girl. Give me an essay assignment and I’ve got it down. Give me a story lead and I’ll have an interview within seconds. I live and breathe for everything words, writing and language (although I have to say that I am horrible at “Words With Friends”).
Something I am not is a math and science kind of girl. Numbers don’t add up in my mind and science doesn’t make sense to me, which is why science and math classes are my biggest struggle. Unfortunately, one of the prerequisites to be accepted into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is to take an economics class.
Give me a second as I let that terrible thought and memory pass over me for a second. Guns and butter do not mix with me. The only supply and demand I familiarize myself with is the supply of a shoe in a store versus the demand for it.
So the start of the semester comes and within the first two economics lectures, I’m already lost. I don’t like to admit defeat, and I’m sometimes terrified of asking for help because I see it as a sign of weakness (I also have the tendency to be a little stubborn). I tried to ignore it, but the fact was that the earlier and faster I fell behind, the more I was putting myself in a terrible position for success in the future.
It finally came time to take the first exam in the class and I did not do well on it. In fact, I have never done so badly on an exam in my whole academic career. And the material was the basics of econ, which means if I didn’t get that, I was essentially setting myself up for failure for the rest of the semester.
So I asked for help.
I went to my teaching assistant’s office hours every week. She got to know my name and got to know me more than just another student who comes in periodically. She got to know how I understood and comprehended things differently than how they were taught in the lectures. I learned not only how to understand econ but more importantly, I also learned that teaching assistants and professors are your best resources. They hold office hours for YOU, they are there to answer YOUR questions and they are doing it for YOUR best interest. Not only that, but they could turn out to be great friends and provide great recommendations in the future.
Secondly, I sought out tutoring. Oftentimes tutoring comes with a negative connotation on a college campus, but students who earn all ranges of GPAs take advantage of tutoring (yes, even those students with a 4.0). The best part about tutoring services on a college campus is that they’re usually free. Residence halls, Dean of Students services or student organizations are usually resources that provide these type of services without the financial burden. I found a Ph.D. student who met with me twice a week during a time that worked best with my schedule.
And whatya know, with the combination of office hours and tutoring, I started to understand the material a lot more and started to get better grades on my exams. Supply and demand made sense!
I have learned that it shows unbelievable strength to be at a place where you’re sure enough in yourself to ask for help, whether that be in a school environment or in your personal life. Requesting support can often make us feel vulnerable. We usually think that we should be able to do everything — that we should be able to understand things taught in class right away and with ease. Or that we should be able to handle everything going on in our college lives.
I know most of us are done with the semester already or very close to the end. But come back next semester with a different perspective on asking for help and toward using campus resources because they’re often underutilized.
I’m still a words girl but, hey, at least I know supply and demand is more than the amount of shoes in a store and how badly I wanted them.
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