The Importance of Asking for Help in College

Everyone needs help at times, especially when they’re adjusting to a new environment like college. You might need the financial aid office to help you resolve a tuition bill, or a professor to explain something you didn’t understand in class. It could be a roommate disagreement that isn’t solving itself. It can also be fundamental needs, such as affording food, covering textbook bills, or finding an affordable place to live. You can find support for many of these challenges on college campuses. And it’s important to know when to ask for help in college.

Sometimes a challenge simply takes a bit of persistence to solve, like ongoing conversations with your roommate, but other times it’s better to ask for the answer right away—for example, seeing your professor during their office hours before starting an assignment that you don’t understand.

Here are some questions to consider when thinking about when to ask for help:

Can I Try to Solve the Problem or Deal with the Challenge Myself?

If you have most of what you need to try figuring it out and have a good chance of finding the information in your text, on campus, or online, then it makes sense to give it a try.

Can I Figure Out an Approach to Solve the Challenge?

Let’s say you had a disagreement with your roommate and you’ve had similar disagreements with another friend and were able to sort it out and make it right. It might make sense to try the same approach this time too.

Is This a Challenge or Problem That Can Reasonably Be Handled Alone?

If you’re struggling to meet the semester tuition bill and the unpaid bill is preventing you from registering for classes, then that’s a really important time to ask for help. Your college may have emergency financial resources for these types of situations that you don’t know about. 

How Much Time or Urgency Is There to Solve the Problem?

If the issue is time-sensitive and it will take you too long on your own or needs to be handled right away—like resolving the tuition bill to register for classes—then reaching out for help sooner makes sense.

Is My Mental Health Suffering?

If you notice sudden changes in your mood, sleep habits, substance use, or ability to concentrate, or other unexpected or severe symptoms, reaching out for mental health support makes sense. Reach out or go to your campus counseling center in person, or learn more about getting mental health support off campus

When you’re not sure, use these questions to help you decide if it makes sense to ask for help. It’s great to be able to rely on yourself to get things done, but it’s also really important to practice asking for help when you need it. With time and experimentation, you’ll find a balance that works for you.

Find out how to get mental health help when you need it

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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.