Finding Help with Academics

Original Content Created by Heather R. Houlton (heather dot houlton at gmail dot com)

Do you find yourself feeling lost in your academic career path? Are you struggling with classes and feel stuck? The following information may help you figure out how to find the support you need.

Students can approach a variety of professionals and academic resources to help them navigate the academic system. The following list outlines some ideas:

  • Favorite professor: Feel free to go up to your professor before or after class to ask questions. Or, if you have more in-depth questions about the material, attend your professor's "Office Hours" - the time the professor sets aside outside of class time that is dedicated to helping students. In fact, if you have general questions about your coursework, what courses you should take, or if you're feeling lost in the larger academic system, you can ask your professor if they would be willing to discuss these items with you in a one-on-one meeting. 
  • Academic advisor: This is the advisor that the college or university assigns to you to help you navigate your coursework and keep you on track with your degree program. It's common that students are required to meet with this person once a semester, but if you're feeling overwhelmed or lost, feel free to reach out and set up additional meeting times to discuss your concerns. 
  • Research advisor: If you are further along in your academic career and if you have participated in previous research experiences, the research advisor guiding you on your project is a great resource. Often this person will be able to give very tailored advice and guidance to help you move forward on your career path. Don't be afraid to set up times to meet one-on-one with this person. 
  • Student Career Center Resources: If you're feeling lost about your general academic or career path, the Student Career Center at your institution should be able to help. It is a free resource. Check out your career center's web page to learn more about how they can help guide you.
  • Peer Support: Don't underestimate the power of having a strong peer-support system! Other students in your classes or major will be able to help you navigate the academic system too! We found that getting together with peers and friends to form study groups not only helped with learning the content, but it also developed communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. 

There are also national (based in the United States) and international organizations that may be able to help provide you with the support that you need along your career path. The list below are ideas, and is not a comprehensive reflection of all of the resources available:

  • Black in Geoscience: Black in Geoscience aims to acknowledge, amplify, and support the work of Black earth and planetary scientists from around the world.
  • 500 Women Scientists: The mission of 500 Women Scientists is to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible and transform society by fighting racism, patriarchy, and oppressive societal norms.
  • Earth Science Women's Network: a grassroots, member-driven organization, dedicated to moving the geosciences forward.
  • International Association for Geoscience Diversity: a non-profit dedicated to improving access and inclusion for people with disabilities in the geosciences.
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society: a national, nonprofit organization focused on substantially increasing the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations and other indigenous peoples of North America in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers.
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science: an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.
  • National Association of Black Geoscientists: a non-profit committed to the continuous training of minority geoscientists.
  • Association for Women Geoscientists: an international organization devoted to enhancing the quality and level of participation of women in geosciences and to introduce girls and young women to geoscience careers.
  • Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students: an undergraduate internship and support program in the Earth sciences, based at UNAVCO in Boulder, Colorado, dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the geosciences.
  • The Rising Voices Center: center Indigenous knowledge systems in the Earth sciences for more innovative responses to extreme weather and climate change.