September 25, 2008


Surely you've heard John Donne's classic aphorism, "No man is an island," a maxim which is especially fitting here at the University. Regardless of your good grades in high school, the difficulty of the U of C curriculum added to the other new stresses of college life is sure to make for a challenging transition. There's no shame in seeking help as you learn to master the U of C's classrooms.

Your academic adviser forms the pillar of all the academic resources the College offers. The U of C is unique in that its advisers don't maintain other positions on campus, so be sure to take advantage of this resource. During required meetings every quarter of your first year and annually after that, your adviser will tell you which classes are appropriate for you, make sure you're completing your graduation requirements, and help steer you toward a major. Additionally, advisers can help with internship applications, résumé building, and other career guidance.

Later on, these advisers will make recommendations for scholarships like the Rhodes and Marshall, so it's a good idea to get on their good side early in your academic career.

While advisers are an automatic support system for all students, the other academic resources on campus need to be sought out actively. Just finished your first college paper and need to know if it's up to par? Try the College Core tutors (, a cadre of upperclassmen and graduate students who are on call every weeknight in Harper Library, Max Palevsky, and the Shoreland to give one-on-one help in chemistry, economics, math, physics, and writing.

The Academic Skills Assessment Program (ASAP) at the Student Counseling and Resource Service can help students struggling with procrastination, time management, concentration, and other academic issues. ASAP (5737 South University Avenue, (773) 702-9880, provides one-on-one counseling and group workshops.

Also, don't be bashful about getting some face time with you professors— they host office hours for a reason. You shouldn't hesitate to drop by with questions about a paper or problem set, but make sure to bring prepared questions to make the most of your time. Review sessions conducted by your T.A.s, such as required tutorials, are a perfect place to catch up if you've fallen behind and a great way to get homework done if you're already up to speed.

Despite this wide array of University-sponsored support, your most accessible means of getting help is unofficial and might live across the hall. Grouping seasoned upperclassmen with wide-eyed, confused first-years is a perk of the housing system, and you should take the hint that the University wants you to interact. Chances are someone in your house aced general chemistry last year, is a T.A. for the same level calc that you're taking, or can sell you the books for Power.