Aug. 16, 2023

Putting the "Self" in Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the act of intentionally speaking up for your wants, needs, and rights. This includes pursuing necessary support and asking for what you need in your journey.

Why Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is important because it connects us to expert resources that can help us achieve our goals. Remember: no one else knows what is going on inside your life quite like you do. One of the benefits of self-advocacy is that it can help us be more efficient with our time. We can do this by gaining insight from experts. If we need an extension on an assignment, support writing a paper, or clarification on a lecture point, no one knows that but ourselves. We must be the ones to ask.

How we advocate

Start small and start early. I was in my third year before I realized I could ask about opportunities for research or work experience. Once I started, I found that very often people would try to help the best they could. On the odd occasion they were unable to help, I began to realize I was certainly not worse off and had often learned something through the process. Additionally, if the person I asked wasn't able to address my concern, I could ask to be referred to someone who was able to help.

Sometimes speaking up is hard, so write up for yourself instead. With important requests for your professor, like an extension, using an email to start the conversation can be easier. This is true for other opportunities like research opportunities or references. This gives you an opening to connect about the topic in person or thank your professor.

You are not alone!

You will quickly realize along your journey as a university student that everyone is probably just as overwhelmed as you are. You should remember that asking for help is not a sign of giving up, but rather a sign of refusing to give up. Moreover, asking an expert on campus for support is the most efficient way to navigate through university. Some readily available resources that you can use are –

  1. For academic support: Student Success Center
  2. For accommodations: Student Accessibility Services
  3. For mental health services: Student Wellness Services
  4. For financial support: Scholarships and bursaries