I study Mathematics and Computer Science. I have a classmate who excessively depends on me when it comes to coursework . He wants me to explain definitions, proofs, share code, check his proofs and bugs in programs. It seems to me he does not pull enough efforts when he doesn't get things in the first try and approaches for help.

I have tried to advice by saying "you should work on this for more time" as most of his questions are trivial. I think that he finds it easier to get help from somebody rather than reading again or spending more time. I also think that I am spoiling him by helping. This is also ruining me as this eats up my time.

What is a good solution to my problem? How can I convince him to put more effort from his part? I tried to avoid him especially when exams get near, but he ends up finding me.

  • 1
    explain to him that he needs a little more work
    – AlexKir
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 9:44
  • 4
    I suspect the OP is an undergraduate. In this case, such a question would be off-topic. Can I ask all answerers to answer this as if it were from a postgraduate - that way, it can remain on-topic and be useful to our wider postgraduate audience
    – 410 gone
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 9:49
  • 3
    This may be helpful. Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:11

1 Answer 1


He's a postgraduate, and so are you. A postgraduate degree is self-guided study. And while there's scope for group working and collective problem solving, hand-holding him is actually making his situation worse, not better.

In other words, by doing his work for him, you are hindering him. If he truly is a friend, then it's time for you to stop hindering him.

Explain to him that you have been preventing him becoming a fully-fledged researcher, and apologise for that; remind him that the purpose of the degree is to build research skills, self-discipline, and independent thought, and that when he asks you to do work for him, you're both complicit in preventing him from achieving these goals. And so it's got to stop, for his sake, and for your sake in not being complicit with what's going on.

  • This is a good answer as far as postgraduates are concerned (+1), but unfortunately cannot do much help in my case.
    – Learner
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:01
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    @Learner we don't take undergraduate questions here, except insofar as they also apply to postgraduate life. So the choice was to close & delete the question, or to answer it as if it were on topic. But it still applies in your case that in doing his work for him, you're preventing him from learning. Both he and you should find that undesirable.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:05
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    Except for the fist two sentences, the answer applies equally to undergrads. University is there to teach you skills, independent thought, and how to acquire new knowledge.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:24

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