4 Tips For When You’re Struggling in College

By Michelle Kofman

Everybody struggles in college and needs advice on how to be more successful.  Whether it is how to manage your time or how to ask for help, this blog post is here to help you get through the struggles of higher education.  Here are the top 4 tips on succeeding in college.

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” – Zig Ziglar

1.  Attend Class
Of course attending class is a no-brainer.  However, some professors don’t require attendance, and when the class is early in the morning, or notably easy, you may not have the motivation to go.  However, going to class is extremely important; the information presented by the professor (or TA) is different than how it is presented in the textbook.  Professors might elaborate on something that is briefly mentioned in the textbook, or vice versa  If you miss class, you miss knowing that information.  Going to class can also help cultivate a relationship with the professor, which will be key later down the road.
2.  Time Management

Being a student is a full-time job.  A normal work day is 8 am – 4 pm and being a student is no different.  Getting as much work in during the day is key.  Michelle Laughlin, Student Disability Services Coordinator at Drake University, recommends studying for 20-25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break, and repeating that pattern.  During the 25 minutes of studying, turn off every distraction and focus solely on your reading and other tasks.  Switching topics to maintain focus during the study time may be necessary.  After about 3 rounds of this study pattern, give yourself a maximum of a 20-minute break, where you can give into a distraction.  However, after the break, make sure to go back to studying using this pattern.

3. Ask for Help
 In college, you may need academic help, and eventually career help too.  Keeping up with assignments and going to class is the best way to tackle any academic problems that might arise, however, that isn’t always enough.  If you are doing your coursework and are still struggling, go visit your professor.  Their main job is to educate, and if you’re not understanding or comprehending the material, you might need extra assistance.  All professors have office hours, so be sure to check the syllabus and see when they are.  If you cannot meet with your professor during office hours, send him/her an email and they will help coordinate a time they can meet with you.  Your professors want you to succeed as much as you do, so never shy away from asking for help.
Part of the reason going to class is so important is to cultivate a relationship with your professor.  When it is time to job search for a career, professors are some of the best resources to use.  Professors have the connections that will help launch your professional career, so be sure to establish a relationship with all of your professors.  You may also need them for job recommendations. 
4.  Choosing a Major
Choosing a college major can be a daunting task.  What do you want to do for the rest of your life?  Will that career pay well?  Will I like my major?  These are all important questions to consider when choosing your major.
Start by thinking about what you like and what you are good at doing.  If you have a weakness for writing, don’t study journalism.  If you are good with numbers, maybe you want to look into actuarial science, mathematics, or engineering.  If you cannot decide on a major, go into college undeclared and talk with your advisor about what you enjoy, which classes you’re taking that you like, and what you’re interested in.  Remember, college majors aren’t permanent and you can always switch.

Remember, being a college student is a full-time commitment that should not be taken lightly.  If you’re struggling, contact your professors.  No matter what kind of relationship you have with them, they want you to succeed.  Go to class and study.  Read this blog when you need a bit more information and share it with someone who needs it!

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