Executive Function Strategies Blog

Talking to Teachers: Building Self-Advocacy in College Students

Visiting a professor during office hours in college can be a daunting task, especially for freshmen. Students wonder if they should just stop by to introduce themselves or if they must prepare specific questions. Anxiety might take over, with students fearing they won’t sound smart enough or seem like “college material.” Students often think: “What if I make things worse by meeting with my professor?” and “What if I totally blank out and embarrass myself?” All of these concerns are valid, but avoidance tends just to perpetuate the vicious cycle of fear, and students lose the valuable opportunity of one-on-one time with their professors.

Self Advocacy: Why Your Child Won’t Seek the Teacher’s Help

It’s often hard for parents to trust that their children will learn from their mistakes, especially when they adamantly refuse to see their teachers for help. Parents also tend to react skeptically when their children agree but then “forget” to go to a planned meeting. Now that final exams, papers, and projects are piling up for students (along with all the questions and roadblocks that travel with the end of year workload) parents can feel like a scratched CD with their refrain “Go meet with your teacher!”

Self-Advocacy: When NOT to Advocate for Your Child

I’d like to begin this post by being very clear: I am not a parent.  Therefore, I cannot fully imagine what it might feel like to know your child is struggling with something -- with something you can resolve -- but resisting the impulse to come to the rescue.  I am, however, an Executive Function coach and classroom instructor who has seen countless students struggle with a reading or writing assignment, meaning I know what it feels like to hold my tongue when all I want to do is explain what a quote means or give them an idea to write about.  Despite how difficult that can sometimes be, I also know there are enormous benefits to holding back.  While there are critical moments when parents need to step in to advocate for their child, oftentimes the question we need to consider is this: When should I NOT advocate for my child?  The following story about one of the college students I coach might help us begin to answer that: