Many students wonder how they can improve their relationships and interactions with their professors and when it’s okay to ask for help. We asked BYU Law professors what they want their students to know about these concerns that students may have. This post is the first in a three-part series.
At What Point Should You Seek Help?
Professor Jarrod Shobe:
I wouldn’t always encourage students to initially go to their professors for help. The best way for students to learn is by engaging with the material to answer their own questions. In my experience students are more likely to internalize material when they initially work through difficult issues on their own. The best way to build relationships with professors is to show them that you have put the time and effort in to gain a deep understanding of the material.
Associate Dean David Moore:
Professors are eager to work with bright, hard working students to learn the law. They take joy in seeing students master the difficult material they study. As students think about asking their professors for help, I would counsel them to stay within two extremes. On one hand, do not fear asking a dumb question. Often very basic principles can be difficult to discern and it is ok to ask. On the other hand, you are learning to become an independent problem-solver, someone who can find answers for those who are not trained in the law. You should also seek to find answers on your own by, for example, looking up new terms, reviewing class notes, studying with a group. These efforts will help you develop skills that extend beyond simply receiving an answer to a question.
Professor Michalyn Steele:
In my experience, the professors at BYU Law are uniquely accessible and helpful. Professors can be a resource when, after your own study and research, you are still confused about a particular principle. Professors can also offer professional guidance and serve as references when you are charting your post-law school path. Law school is a demanding experience. Your professors can help you prioritize your efforts and offer reassurance that the journey is worthwhile.
Tips to Remember
- Do as much of your own research and good thinking as possible. Try to work through the challenging issues on your own or in a study group; work to become a problem-solver. If you’re still having trouble, then it may be time to meet with the professor.
- Don’t be extreme: don’t be afraid to ask a dumb question, but don’t ask questions that can be easily answered by course material.
- Professors are willing and excited to meet with students who are diligent in their efforts to study the law.