As a student there really is no one better to ensure your success but you. Therefore, there is no better advocate for your success than you! Students have the ability to shape their educational experience by using their voices to speak on their own behalf. When a situation calls for self advocacy, it is always good keep the following tips in mind:
Start with your instructor. Many issues can be handled by simply reaching out to your instructor (i.e. grading, difficulty with course material, problems submitting exams and assignments, etc.). Try to facilitate a dialogue of mutual respect and avoid using abrasive, accusatory, or otherwise aggressive language in all communications with instructors. Review tips on emailing your instructor.
Don’t be intimidated and understand that your voice matters. Sometimes speaking up can be an intimidating task. Students may fear being unjustly persecuted by an instructor if they raise an issue against the instructor. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to rely on others to handle matters or to ignore issues completely, but there are times when you are the person from whom action is required and pretending the problem does not exist does a disservice to you and your education. If the difference between enduring maltreatment and having an enriching learning experience is you speaking up for yourself, then it’s time to be vocal and let your needs be heard.
Be knowledgeable of your role, responsibilities, and rights as a student. Students have a responsibility to be knowledgeable of the student handbook, codes of conduct, student grievance policy, course policies, etc. When situations arise, you need to be clear on all rules, regulations, and policies related to your issue. You wouldn’t want to raise a stink that could have been avoided by researching school policy. An informed student is an empowered student.
Access your resources. Any time you are not sure how to approach a situation, are uncertain who to address your concerns with, etc., reach out to your support staff for advice, resources, and assistance. Contact the NOVA Online Success Coach team and they can point you in the right direction at 703-764-5076 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understand that not all change is instant and not everything will have the outcome you desire. However, remember that your education is a cause worth advocating for. Namaste.
-Jennifer, NOVA Online Success Coach