By: Jamely Rosa
They tell you to picture the audience in their underwear. It’ll help, they say. You laugh on the outside, but in the inside, your heartbeat is racing rapidly. It taunts you, so much so that the thought of death is less frightening than speaking in public. You may want to ask for help, but you can’t. Instead, you freeze–unable to say anything.
“As a kid, I would ask for help, but then I was made fun of by either my friends, cousins, and even adult figures,” says Bryan Taveras, a student at Lehman College. “Nowadays, I know asking for help is normal.” Although this student has realized that doing so is natural, it is challenging for most people to ask for help when struggling, lost, or confused.
At an early age, children often get discouraged by their respected elders and/or role models. This makes it difficult for people to grow and have the support that they need to progress. Surprisingly enough, most would rather fail than ask or receive help from someone else. Ask yourself: why don’t people like asking for help?
Most people are either shy or intimidated, which greatly influences the struggle of asking for help. But, some of the time, it is arrogance that may hinder these individuals from reaching their goals.
“Not asking for help the times that I needed it made things more difficult because it took longer to get things done,” Taveras commented.
This is an issue that affects all college students. But, in regards to minorities, these individuals feel more discouraged to ask because the stigma that is attached to being a person of color makes them more self-conscious. Asking for help invites the feeling that there is something wrong with them and they may feel that they will be conforming to stereotypes by doing so.
In upper and middle class families, hiring someone to work with a student is often seen as a good investment. As well as a way to reassure their children’s impending success. In contrast, when the support is offered to students of minority backgrounds, it is often assumed that he or she might not be too bright.
Although some people may struggle with the idea that asking for help makes them feel inferior, others suffer because of arrogance. Ironically, this sense of pride can give off the essence of ignorance. In other words, people need to understand that no one is a human Google.
But, for high school students in particular, they struggle when asking for help because they feel invincible at that age. More often than not, they prefer asking their peers for help rather than someone who specializes in whatever their needs are. This can include crucial information, such as finances, education, and career advice.
With college, comes along a sense of independence. These students have a handful of resources and programs available to them, yet they fail to take the opportunities. Some of these are: academic support (tutoring), clubs, counseling (educational & personal), office hours (course professors), computer labs, libraries, etc.
“If I am asking for help on something, I should already know well,” said Anthony Godette, a graduating senior at John Jay. “Then, it becomes embarrassing to ask because I should already know. If I completely don’t know something, then I have no choice but to ask for help.”
Like this student, most people feel that when they need help with something, they are supposed to know the answer. Feeling this way is common amongst those individuals with a difficulty to reach out.
Another John Jay student, Luisa Fernandez, mentions how, although she now attends tutoring regularly, she consistently ignored professors’ advice in her freshman year to do so. She mentions feeling as if she was inadequate and that this was why she never asked for help.
“When I first came into college, I was used to the professors telling me what to do and showing me how to do it,” she said. “Then, I realized that I actually had to reach out for myself… I actually didn’t do it the first two semesters. I ended up on academic probation in the spring of 2013 and, because of that, I was restricted to taking only two classes while having to attend mandatory academic support.”
Fernandez is no longer on academic probation and accepts that following professors’ guidance helped her achieve that. She even ended up on the Dean’s List and is graduating this year with a major in forensic psychology.
When college students are told that they have to attend tutoring, they are often hesitant about it. More often than not, they flat-out refuse on the grounds that don’t need it and can get through it. This type of mentality makes the students not want to ask for support.
Dr. Mark Francis, Academic Support Director at John Jay, says, “Students need to be reminded that seeking assistance is a way of demonstrating your interest in being successful.”
A human being’s nature is being rational, calculative, and competitive individuals. College students are a prime example of that. Some of these students are managing jobs, children, and school simultaneously. This is in addition to trying to satisfy family expectations.
College students need to take advantage of the resources that are made available to them because this system was created to empower and inform individuals. Everyone can teach and everyone can learn.
“No one gets through it by themselves,” says Francis.