This is me right now. I’m currently taking a class about information retrieval and is boils down to a lot of database talk.
I understand databases in principle, a little in practice and almost none when it comes to creation.
I do love metadata, but there is so much more to a database than metadata.

What really happened is from day one in this class I’ve felt like I was dropped into the middle, as if I missed several crucial readings and lectures. Sooner or later it’s probably going to happen to everyone at least once in library school. So what’s an aspiring librarian to do?

Years ago in undergrad I’d have muddled through, hoped for the best and come out of the class a little ragged, with a good grade, and absolutely no understanding of the course. And why? Because I would have been too proud to let on that I was feeling lost. I feel that’s a pretty crappy use of my student loan dollars at this point.

What did I do this time? After frustratingly muddling through the first assignment, I read my feedback from my instructor. I didn’t even do poorly on the assignment, which was a relief, but I decided to email my instructor thanking her for her detailed feedback and let her know how I felt-a little lost and like I’d missed something. I also asked her for any suggestions for supplemental readings that might support what we were learning that I could look up.

She was awesomely helpful in her response, eased my worries by letting me know that other people felt the same way, and directed me to supplemental material. This little step did way more than just getting a little peace of mind. It also let my instructor know that I wanted that detailed feedback and gave me some additional materials I could use to feel less lost. So in the future my instructor will know that I’m not the master of database knowledge and that I want as much feedback as possible so I can learn more.

So take it from me. Don’t be proud, be proactive. Engage your instructor, that’s what they are there for. You are in school to learn. If you knew everything already you wouldn’t be there (and frankly, you’d probably be really bored waiting for everyone to catch up to you vast knowledge.) This also goes for if you get the material and want to learn more about it. If your class isn’t delving as deep as you’d like into a topic, ask your instructor for more info.