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When Things Get Tough

Bennet highlights the Carleton student support services that he has used the most during the past four weeks.

Bennet highlights the Carleton student support services that he has used the most during the past four weeks.

Have you ever felt like you waste way more time than necessary? What about spending two hours figuring out the thesis for your Do the Right Thing essay, only for your professor to reject it anyway? (My English department buddies can relate!) Or spending your whole afternoon in Olin 310 changing methods in your java program, when you just needed to decrement the count variable in order to avoid an “IndexOutOfBoundsException”?

Yes, you do waste time. While it is essential to figure things out on your own, sometimes your efforts just don’t work, and that’s totally fine. Still, it’s no fun when a Carl goes through this, and it has been a rollercoaster of unending hurdles leading up to the ninth week of classes. College would be no fun if it were easy, right? To solve my class troubles, I reached out to various academic support services on campus.

Office Hours

Office hours are one way for professors to give students further assistance on topics, assignments, or other course-related material that need further explanation. Through office hours, I always get a clear sense of what my professors expect from me.

Also, Carleton professors genuinely want all of their students to succeed. So when I didn’t quite understand how to manipulate the production functions of closed economies in my macroeconomics class, I reached out to my economics prof, Victor Almeida. He gave me a whole lecture during office hours, and I ended up getting an A on his problem set covering the same concept.

Prefects (and/or lab assistants)

Prefects are Carls who have mastered a particular course and are able to help other students better understand the concepts of that course. I owe a ton of gratitude to all of my prefects. They are really nice people and are always willing to help me to understand class lectures and assignments, or even offer advice on how to approach the course.

The Computer Science (CS) lab assistants are also great resources, especially for CS students who need help with homework. For the past weeks, bugs have not really been an issue for me because of the help from lab assistants. Generally, prefects and lab assistants help me figure out the shortest ways to approach assignments which would otherwise take at least four hours to complete.

The Writing Center

My most fun class this term has been my A&I course on Drama, Film, and Society; yet it is also the most stressful class for me. This is because it is a writing-rich course. As an international student, I was not quite familiar with college-level writing in the U.S. Therefore, I struggled especially during the first half of the term with essays because it was quite difficult to do things like make an argument or write an effective introduction. For prospective students still in high school, this might seem trivial, but trust me—college is very different.

Fortunately, my English professor, Pierre Hecker, recommended that I get help from Writing Center assistants or from Melanie Cashin, the Coordinator of Multilingual Writing Support. Since then, I have had appointments with Melanie every week to work on my essays. I have gotten great advice which strongly influences how I approach analytical essays. Through the Writing Center, people can write and edit essays faster, rather than spending two hours staring at an empty page and trying to figure out what their thesis should be.

Further Resources

For prospective students, there are many more student support services to address your needs before and after you are admitted. Carleton just wants you to reach out when you need help, and all will be well.

As for me, few more weeks to go and the term will be over. I’m in a much better position than I was four weeks ago. The support I continuously get from Carleton has given me the confidence to trust that my next steps will be great (including finals)!

Ben is a freshman from Bamenda, Cameroon, who is eager to experience snow for the first time. Aside from an interest in Computer Science, he is excited to explore Cinema and Media Studies, Economics, Studio Art, Cognitive Science, and Mathematics. At Carleton, he wants to participate in a few clubs and other campus activities, while keeping an academic-social balance. In his free time, Ben enjoys watching anime and random TikTok videos, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. Meet the other bloggers!