Yujia Ding, Biological Sciences major, class of 2014
All throughout our educational years, there are adults – teachers, administrators, counselors, etc. – who help guide our paths. They provide us with feedback, structure, and guidance; over time we go from receiving without asking to learning how ask for help when we need it. However, as undergraduates receiving a college education at a large institution, we can often get lost as just another student in the crowd, not knowing whom to go to or turn to or how to even begin.
Coming from UCLA to Northwestern, I know first-hand how hard it can be to ask for help when you need it. The resources that are handed out to us at orientation tend to get forgotten or left in the recycle bin. Though the resources are incredibly useful, sometimes having them on paper doesn’t equate to being able to reach out when needed. It can be daunting, especially when in need of support, to have the courage to reach out even if all the resources are there right in front of you. Having professors in the classroom who are approachable, open to mentoring and guiding their students, can be critical in the success and development of an undergraduate student.
Many factors play into students' development in their undergraduate years, and a professor’s approachability is one of those factors. Professors can have a profound effect on the academic success of a student, being able to cultivate a student’s interest in a particular course. No matter what size of lecture I have been in, whenever the professor presented himself or herself as open to helping students, the interest I have before and after the course sees a significant increase. When a professor invests in a student’s education and growth, the passion and dedication to educating undergraduate students is clearly evident. No matter how poorly you may believe yourself to perform in a particular subject matter, you are always able to develop a newfound passion with just the right amount of support and encouragement from a professor or mentor.
Even though a lot of the ownership lies on the student to take the first step in asking for help, knowing that a professor is open to helping and willing to be approached by students can be the spark that lights the fire within.
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