Failing college is probably every college student’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s also many students’ reality.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated because you’ve tried all the tips and none of them seem to work?
You can quote all of the best study tips from A-Z but you’re still only pulling off Cs at best in your classes, and are failing most of them. And you’re starting to get really frustrated.
I personally love college-tips posts (one of the reasons I started a blog that’s centered around them), but I have noticed that there are NUMBER main assumptions that all of these “tips” make but don’t often address that can seriously impact what grade you’re getting even more than how hard you’re trying. So today, I want to look at those assumptions to help you figure out (a) why you’re failing college and (b) what to do about it.
1. Look at patterns of time use
I cannot reiterate this enough: you need to be conscious of how you’re spending your time. It can be so easy to let hours just slip away on Netflix or out for coffee with a friend. Yes, college is a great time to have fun. If you’re failing college or not getting the marks you need for a grad program you want, that means you have to sacrifice fun for school if you’re spending too much time there.
The way I do this is keeping a time journal over a week. Write this in detail–I round to the quarter hour. So if I’m studying, but then half an hour in I start to go on facebook, I write “study – 30 minutes. Facebook – 45 minutes. Study – 1 hour” and it showed me that yikes! I actually just wasted 45 minutes on facebook.
If you have a hard time remembering to do this, set a timer and every half hour write down what you’re doing. This will help show you what you’re actually doing, rather than just what you feel like you’re doing. It’s easy to feel like you’ve been studying for hours when in reality you’ve been flipping between pinterest and your textbook since 10 AM.
Once you know where you’re spending your time, start prioritizing. You always need time to relax and have fun with friends. Never cut that out completely! Instead, be smart about your free time. What’s most important? Netflix every night, or going out for dinner with a few friends once a week and having one night to watch TV? Figure out what you want to spend your time on.
2. Make sure you’re in the right major
Are you in biomed, when you should really be in marketing or finance? Look at how well you are able to grasp the concepts you’re studying. If you’re struggling to get by, it may be time to look for a new major.
My husband switched majors after his second year. He hated what he was studying, but has a passion for conflict resolution so he switched into psychology, which has tons of opportunities to do what he’s good at. The change in how he’s seen school over the last few years is amazing. He’s loving it now! Switching isn’t the end of the world–it might make you actually enjoy learning again!
3. Assess your mental state
If you’re failing college, figure out if there’s a bigger problem that needs to be dealt with. If you’re struggling psychologically, it may be wise to take a break. Take a semester off to tend to your mental health and volunteer for causes you’re passionate about. If there’s something going on with family, take a break and spend time with them while you’re dealing with the crisis. Figure out if you really need to be somewhere else other than school right now. Sometimes bad grades can be a marker that there’s something deeper going on.
4. Figure out if what you’re working for is realistic
This one is hard to face sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to address. Not everyone is meant to go to university. It’s a really hard environment and you have to be willing to put in a lot of work for very little in return and then work even harder and longer in graduate studies to actually be able to have a job. If you’re not one who enjoys school but wants to actually be able to do something at the end of the day, it might be worth looking into college programs instead.
I really think that one of the most frustrating things about our schools currently is how much university is seen as the best option! No, it’s not. Not for everyone, and that’s not a bad thing. I have a friend who’s in school to become an electrician who is one year younger than me and is graduating the same time as me. He was able to keep a job throughout his school years and is graduating with zero debt and will be able to join the work force immediately with a job that will be able to support him! I’m not going to be able to work for 8 more years if my plan works out! And he’s really good at what he does, and he enjoys it.
If you definitely are meant to be in university, you need to look at whether or not you’ll be able to achieve your goals. Do you need to get into a masters program? Figure out if you’re going to be able to with the grades you have, or if it is simply not an option. Then, look for other types of work where you get to do similar work but it is not as academically intense.
For example, I know a girl here in my school who wanted to apply for a PhD in clinical psychology, which is one of the most competitive programs there is. She realized last year, that, frankly, she didn’t have the grades to get in, but found a great program at a college here that’s a one-year degree after your undergrad in ABA therapies for autistic children. She’s in it right now and absolutely loves it! And she’s doing what she always wanted to–helping kids with disabilities. Her re-evaluating the reality of her plans helped her find other options that were more suited to her personally.
Take a while and really think about what you want in life. Then, figure out if it’s realistic. These aren’t fun questions, but lying to yourself really only hurts you in the long-run. Why not rip off the band-aid now and just find something that is a great fit for who you are, with your gifts and talents?
5. Make a plan and stick to it
No matter what you decide, you’ve got to actually carry out that decision. Sit down and figure out what it is you actually want, and then take action to get there. Deciding to withdraw from this semester and finish it another year? Do the paperwork and get out. Deciding to work hard and just power through? Go to the library and hit the books.
When you start to make changes towards the change that you want, it’ll help give you a sense of control which will help you to continue making positive changes. The trick is that you actually have to do it. So figure out what you want to do and make a plan with weekly and monthly goals.
Failing college can seem terrifying, but maybe this is an opportunity for you to really take control of your life. Don’t be afraid to make a big change in the right direction–you are not alone in this and you’re definitely not the first to be going through this.
I hope this helped you if you’re struggling with school right now.
What are techniques you use if you’re not getting the grades you need?
Like this post? Click the image above to pin it!