Self-advocacy is the act of speaking up for yourself or others. It’s an important skill for college students to learn, because it can help you get the help you need to succeed.
There are many different areas where college freshmen may need to advocate for themselves. For example, you may need to advocate for yourself academically if you’re struggling in a class, or you may need to advocate for yourself personally if you’re experiencing discrimination or harassment.
- Understand your rights as a student. Every college has a student handbook that outlines your rights and responsibilities as a student. Make sure you read the handbook so you know what you’re entitled to. For example, you may be entitled to extra time on exams, or you may be able to take a class pass/fail.
- Be prepared to speak up if you have a problem. If you’re struggling in a class, don’t be afraid to talk to your professor. They may be able to offer you extra help or accommodations. For example, they may be able to recommend a tutor, or they may be able to allow you to take an incomplete in the class.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to help college students succeed academically. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your academic advisor, tutor, or other student services professionals. For example, your academic advisor can help you create a study plan, and your tutor can help you with specific concepts or assignments.
- Be assertive but respectful. When you’re advocating for yourself, it’s important to be assertive but respectful. This means being clear about your needs and expectations, but also being polite and considerate of the other person’s point of view. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, you could say something like, “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by my workload. I’m wondering if there’s any way I can reduce my credit load this semester.”
- Be clear about your needs and expectations. When you’re talking to someone about an issue, be clear about what you need or want. This will help them understand your situation and be more likely to help you. For example, if you’re feeling discriminated against, you could say something like, “I feel like I’m being discriminated against because of my race. I would like to meet with the dean to discuss this issue.”
- Don’t be afraid to say no. If you’re not comfortable with something, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s important to set boundaries and stand up for yourself. For example, if you’re being asked to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing, you could say something like, “I’m not comfortable doing that. I would prefer to do something else.”
Find Resources to Help You Advocate
- Your college’s student affairs office. The student affairs office is a great resource for college students who need help advocating for themselves. They can provide you with information about your rights, connect you with other resources, and help you resolve any problems you may be having. For example, the student affairs office may have a staff member who specializes in helping students with disabilities, or they may have a student government that can help you advocate for changes to the campus climate.
- Your academic advisor. Your academic advisor is another great resource for college students who need help advocating for themselves. They can help you plan your coursework, troubleshoot academic problems, and connect you with other resources. For example, your academic advisor may be able to recommend a tutor for you. They may be able to help you get an extension on an assignment.
- Student government. Student government is a great way to get involved on campus and advocate for the needs of students. They can help you raise awareness about issues that affect students, and they can work with the administration to make changes. For example, student government may be able to organize a protest against tuition hikes, or they may be able to lobby the administration to create more affordable housing options for students.
- National organizations that advocate for student rights. There are a number of national organizations that advocate for student rights. These organizations can provide you with information and resources, and they can help you get involved in advocacy efforts. For example, the National Student Association has a website that provides information about student rights. They also have a chapter at many colleges and universities.
Self-advocacy is an important skill for college students to learn.