Academic Help

Academic help includes skills, resources, advice, and supports to improve, develop, or facilitate academic performance. All students develop their academic skills as they progress through their degrees and, ideally, should access available academic resources from the start.

Generally, students should access help when they:
  • start a new degree or program
  • require accommodations/supports
  • enter more advanced courses
  • want to improve their skills and/or performance

Students may also be referred to other campus services (e.g., Student Accessibility Services, Counselling and Clinical Services, Aboriginal Student Services Centre, the University Health Centre, Office of the Student Ombuds) based on their needs.

Indicators for academic help

It is normal for students to be unsure of the kind of help they need, or to feel uncertain or hesitant about seeking help. Students may not directly say they need help, but there are many ways they might communicate their desire for support. A few common indicators are:

Verbal indicators
  • "I don't know where or how to start..."
  • "I want to do better in..."
  • "I am working hard but..."
  • "I'm (frustrated, bored, angry, etc.) with/at..."
  • "I go to class and study but..."
  • "I don't understand..."
  • "What else can I do?"
  • "I don't know if I can do it."
  • "How do other students do it?"

Behavioural indicators

  • Disappointment in grades
  • Interest in improving academic skills
  • Ineffective study, exam, writing, or communication skills
  • Poor academic performance
  • Grades not matching efforts
  • Interest in better managing academic challenges
  • Poor organization or time management
  • Misunderstanding course concepts and expectations

Identifying and referring

1. Ask and explore

Help them to explore their challenge by using positive, non-judgmental language and asking open-ended questions.
  • "I'm glad you asked about..."
  • "Can you tell me more about..."
  • "What types of material are you struggling with?"

2. Consider the options

Review the "Where to send U of A students for academic help" PDF or online resource below to determine what types of services are available.

Identify other support options, including:
  • speaking with the instructor
  • hiring a tutor
  • connecting with a subject librarian

3. Refer

Depending on your role, provide a referral in one or more of these ways:
  • contact the service directly
  • provide them with details for accessing a specific service
  • help them book an appointment
  • follow up with the student to see how it went

Where U of A students can go for academic help

The following are topics with which U of A students commonly require academic assistance. Each topic has a listing of services that are most often helpful for students who have that academic concern.