What College Students Who Need Help Academically Should Do

Kelci Lynn Lucier
October 27, 2011

When most college students imagine their life in college, they think of the fun they'll have, the memories they'll make, and all the new and exciting things they'll learn. Very few, however, daydream about the realities many students face: struggling with assignments, failing exams, and needing help just to pull passing grades in their classes.

While you may feel alone if you're having problems balancing (and passing!) your classes, you're definitely not. No matter what kind of school you're attending, your institution undoubtedly has systems in place to help struggling students. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Where can I go for academic help? The likelihood that you're the first student on your campus to be struggling academically is, well, nonexistent. That means, of course, that there are places you can go for help.

First and foremost, reach out to your professors. While going to office hours and talking to a professor might be scary, remember that they, too, were college students once. Talk to them about your struggles. Ask them what guidance they can give you, whether it be the name a tutor or the offer to look over your thesis before you start working on your next paper.

[Learn more about getting good grades in college.]

Additionally, talk to your academic adviser. If you're too nervous talking to your professors, you adviser can be a great resource. He or she might know other students with whom you can form a study group; they might have some tips on how to do better in a certain professor's class; they might help you come up with an action plan of how to better manage your course load.

Your campus likely also has some kind of academic support or tutoring center. Use it! It's part of what you pay for in your "tuition and fees." Even if you aren't sure what kind of help you need, stop in to see what it has to offer. From peer advisers to faculty tutors to help with time management, an academic support center is a definite must-see.

2. When should I go for academic help? OK, so you've only failed one midterm but you still have two left. Or you're getting C's on your papers, which means you'll pass but just barely.

The best time to go get academic help is the before you desperately need it. Don't wait until you're in too deep to get some support. If you've failed a midterm, that means you need help studying for the next one--not that you should wait and see how the next one goes. And if you're not doing as well as you'd like on things like papers and lab reports, getting help sooner can make all the difference between just passing and doing well.

3. When should I drop a class? If you're considering dropping a class, go talk to your academic adviser as soon as possible. You'll need his or her signature anyway, so set up an appointment as soon as you think you might need, or want, to drop a class. You can talk about why you want to drop, what your alternative options are, what it means for your major, what it means for next semester, and what (if anything) it means for your financial aid. Additionally, there are deadlines by which you need to drop a class, so see your adviser as soon as you can.

[Get tips on how to pay for college.]

4. What can I do to help myself? Even if you talk to your professors, go to the academic support center on campus, and have a few heart-to-heart chats with your adviser, your academic performance will still boil down to one major factor: you.

Keep in mind that the choices you make every day in college have an impact on how you perform in your classes. Taking care of yourself physically--meaning getting enough sleep, eating healthy and regularly, and exercising--can drastically improve your mental sharpness.

Additionally, monitor how you spend your time. Consider dropping one or more of your activities so you can focus on passing your classes. Change where and when you study so you aren't distracted by friends or loud crowds. Get a tutor to help you not only better understand the material but also develop the skills needed to learn better on your own. Tapping into the resources available to you, both internally and externally, can be your best bet if you're facing problems with your classes.

[See other ideas for managing your time in college.]

Do you have any great tips to share for doing well in college courses? Share them below!