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Something I wished I did more of in college: Ask more questions

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Asking questions is a way in which we gather information on various topics. However, it can sometimes be difficult to ask a simple question to gain clarity on a topic or find the answer to some of life’s challenges. As a college student, you may be fearful of what your professors and or classmates may think of you, if you are the one who are always asking clarifying questions. However, the questions you have and are asking are also the questions some of your classmates have and are afraid to ask.

Think beyond the classroom

As a college student, questioning is not only relegated to the classroom setting. You will be required to communicate with various stakeholders in the college setting to include financial aid advisors, academic advisors, and the registrar to name a few. When interacting with the various individuals at your institution, always remember to be pleasant, polite, and respectful.

For example, if you have questions about scholarships for which you could apply, be cognizant of the way you ask your financial aid advisor questions. If you frame your questions correctly and approach him/her in a respectful and polite manner, you may be surprised by the wealth of information about scholarships and possible financial resources he or she could provide you with.

Ask the right questions

Reflecting on my experiences as an undergraduate student, one of my biggest regret was not asking more questions or asking the correct questions. If I had asked more questions in class, I would have gotten clarity on assignments, the instructor would have seen how interested I was in the subject, and I would have been able to earn better grade on assignments.

As a college professor and director of first year success programs now, one of my biggest advice to students every semester is to ask questions without worrying about what anyone will think about them. I encourage them to be the leader of the pack who will take the initiative to ask the question everyone else wants to ask but is too scared to do so.

Timing is everything

You may be wondering, when is the best time to ask a question or how should I ask this question. The answer to that is simple, depending on the nature of your class, whether it is face to face or virtually, you decide when. However, always use emotional intelligence to determine if the time is right.

Conversely, the way in which you ask your question is crucial. Always remember to be respectful and do not come across as being confrontational or entitled. For example, if you have a question regarding a lecture or assignment, you may say professor (name), could you please explain XYZ to me? I do not fully understand a concept or assignment, or you may ask the professor if there is a time that you could meet with him or her to get further clarity on the topic.

It may feel scary at first, but the best way to get answers to your questions is to ask.

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