For my first blog post, I thought it only seemed fitting that I talk about support. I am talking about academic support, not emotional support. Although the two can often bleed into one another.
Many students tell me that they seek out the help of peers before handing in their work. By all means please do, but tread lightly as you do this. If you are unclear about anything in class, please go see your professor. Two confused students don’t equal an A+ student who knows what is going on. Your professor is there to help teach you the concepts that your class is based on. Go ahead and ask them a question. Or feel free to see them in their office hours. That is why office hours exist.
Now that I have critiqued peer support, let me prove to you that I am in fact a big fan of students working together. Students often experience a semester differently than their professor does. After all, you are literally looking at your professor, and they are looking back at you. I see the potential for a feeling of us vs. them (or us v. you) emerging during the semester. You are engaging in a shared experience, and are hopefully finding a common bond with your classmates. Use this bond to make a friend and to form a support group during the semester. A classmate can be great for giving you feedback on projects, and helping to motivate you to work harder over the course of the semester.
I can’t discuss support without talking about faculty/staff support. Because I work as staff support, I obviously have a lot to say. I’ll start off by demystifying the idea that your (whoever you are) professor hates you. I hear this all the time, and I want to believe that this is not true. If you feel that you and your professor have gotten off on the wrong foot, I will again suggest that you take advantage of their office hours. As in many disagreements between two people, it is likely the result of a misunderstanding. What is far more likely is that your professor does not know that you disagree with their giving you a C. I am not suggesting you have a showdown with your professor, but that you try to get to know your professor a little better and to get a clear sense of why you received a C. Go to them for clarification when you do not understand what is going on. Or if you don’t have any concerns to discuss, consider going to them to delve deeper in your course material. They may end up becoming a part of the support system that you form as a student.
Another often overlooked bit of support on campuses is writing support staff. Every school has a writing center with tutors devoted to one on one advising. I suggest at least checking them out because your work will always be better after you have received constructive criticism. And besides, you are paying to go to your school. Why not avail yourself of the resources that you are paying for?
I am going to finish by making a shameless plug for my services. I am available to help any and all students, BA or MFA, who are enrolled in a Film or Media course. I can unfortunately only help with work for Film & Media courses, but I never turn a student away. I am happy to look at anything ranging from a blog posting to a research paper to a segment of animation to a web documentary. Whether you are having trouble with your work, or just want to get a second opinion to make sure that it is terrific, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I promise, if it needs improvement I won’t yell or criticize.
No matter where you seek support, just make sure that you seek it from somewhere. I firmly believe that people do their best work when they aren’t doing it alone.