Asking for help can make some people feel self-conscious and afraid of judgement. After all, being nervous of asking for help can start at school and carry on through university, with a mixture of fear and pride holding students back from taking that all important step.
Still, if you can conquer these feelings of inadequacy early, your quality of education will improve. From there, the sky is the limit! Of course, the ways you can ask for help will change slightly if you’re learning from home. So, what can you do here?
Consequently, here are 5 effective ways to ask for help when studying remotely.
You should always ask for help if you don’t understand something. That said, it’s likely you’ll get better results in your asking if you show you partially understand the content you’re studying or have at least tried to. When asking for help from someone else on your calls or message chain, use your question as a spark to ignite a productive and detailed discussion.
If you’re asking your friend for help in a message or video call, try to frame your questions like you’re missing a crucial piece of a puzzle. That way, they’ll feel more inclined to step in and help you, and not feel like you’re just trying to skip doing any actual work in favour of getting answers from them. Show workings out, swap files or detail your thinking, and helpful results will follow.
Being active in the dialogue here will show your teacher or friend that you’re more likely to both retain and appreciate what they teach you, so they may be willing to spend more time helping you in that event too. Of course, your teacher will help you under any circumstances because that’s their job, but if you’re showing you’re putting the work in, you’ll be able to connect dots and receive a better quality of help when studying from home.
You might start to feel distant from your schooling life when at home, so it’s important to ingrain yourself in your old schooling ways as much as possible. You can do this by setting up a virtual study group, which is a great way of casually and indirectly asking for help from those you invite. You can also ask around and join one that’s already formed. It’s a great way to personalise your learning!
In starting or joining a virtual study group, you can exchange ideas in your studies, and even just chat and joke around here and there between hitting the homework. There is fun to be had at school, so don’t shy away from that at home in these trying times! If you have fewer friends, this is a great way to make some, so try to generate some interest. After all, no one wants to learn in total isolation.
It’s not a genius idea, but it’s how you use the email that will really maximise the quality of help you receive. You don’t want to be sending out a flurry of emails and swamping the inboxes of your teachers or friends every few minutes or hours. If you spam one-line questions over consecutive emails, you’re more likely to get brief responses or even no replies at all if you’re irritating friends.
Take the time to articulate yourself as best you can in your own time. Writing in general is a great way to organise your thoughts and leave no stone unturned as well, so plan what it is you want to say and bullet point your concerns as clearly as you can. It’s also a good idea to CC other relevant parties into your email to receive varied responses from different people with other perspectives. Finally, print off the replies and refer to any useful exchanges later down the line. Use your email wisely!
While studying from home, it’s likely that you’ll be receiving much less one-on-one time with your teacher, if any at all. Chatting to your teacher after class while the next bunch of pupils stroll in and get settled isn’t an option either, so it’s important to get as much feedback as you can in any way you can.
Notes and annotations on your work can offer useful advice, and better yet it’s not always a time-sensitive ordeal. If you’re not getting as much critique as you would like, just pop an email to whoever’s marking your work and politely ask for more. Why stop there? You can get your friends or siblings to scribble some comments on your work too! If you ask more people, you’ll be able to better determine where improvements need to be made judging by which issues keep getting flagged.
There’s also an annotation feature in programmes like Microsoft Word. After sending your files other users can click the review tab and then click new comment. After that, they can highlight extracts of your work, offer some suggestions, and sign it off with their name before sending it back to you. Fire off some files to your chosen few and you should get some practical feedback to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses going forward.
Your parents or guardians can be great sources of help and knowledge, particularly at this difficult time, and so too can your siblings be! If some family members are at home and stroll past your door when you’re doing some homework or on a break, do call them over for a chat. They’d most probably jump at the chance to help you and may even be flattered that you’re involving them in your schooling more!
If you don’t feel your family can help you with your work, don’t panic, the game’s not up yet! Family members can help you with things like improving your learning environment, making sure you have the proper stationary, offering tech support, and even just give you a pep talk to inspire you to keep working. If nothing else, they’re at least another face you can see that’ll stop you going crazy in your room. All those things are invaluable, so definitely touch base with whoever’s at home here and there.
Help comes in all shapes and sizes, and no problem is too big or too small to get some guidance on. Whether it’s asking for feedback or socialising to keep yourself sane, don’t hesitate to get in touch with those who care about you. At times such as these, it’s important to rally around your friends and family for support and to keep your teachers updated on your progress or concerns.
I'm a freelance copywriter with an undergraduate degree in English Literature. I've written for many different outlets, including but not limited to marketing agencies, graduate recruitment websites, and online training companies. I've even interviewed a few famous actors for student and arts blogs too! Covering a wide span of material has been incredibly rewarding, as I get to turn my experiences in the arts, education and careers into helpful advice. I sincerely hope you'll find something to your liking here!