Feeling Behind? Tips for Getting Back on Track!

As your first semester starts to wind down, you may be feeling behind in classes, whether it be missed assignments, or just feeling overwhelmed or confused with class content. Here are some tips to help you get back on track and finish out strong!

First, you will need to ultimately determine the root of the problem. Is the issue that you missed turning in several assignments in a course? Maybe you really aren't understanding the course content and have felt confused all semester? Or, are you doing all the work but just feeling overwhelmed with your courseload and other, non-class obligations and just don't know where, how, or what to prioritize? Start by figuring out why you are struggling to ensure you focus your time and energy appropriately.


If the problem is missed assignments, poor exam grades, or issues with understanding course content...

  • Talk to your professors about catching up. This is the first step in getting back on track and prepared for finals. Let your professor(s) know why you missed these assignments, and see if there's anything you can do to make up the missed work. The worst they can say is "no," but at least you asked! If they do allow you to turn in late work for partial credit, don't miss that opportunity! Partial credit is better than no credit.

  • Seek additional help! Tech's Tutoring Center (located in the Volpe Library, room 120) offers free tutoring services for students in all subjects. If you are feeling confused or lost on course content, seek some additional help by scheduling a tutoring session. Also check with your academic advisor to see if there are any group study sessions available; some departments offer faculty-led study sessions. College courses can be difficult, especially as you also may still be adjusting to the college lifestyle. There's no shame in asking for and seeking out the extra help you need. 

  • Determine how you study. Everyone studies and retains information differently, and what works well for your friend or sibling may not work well for you. Do you feel more or less focused while listening to music? Do you focus better in the presence of others or in a room by yourself? Figuring out how you best study and retain information takes time. If you haven't figured this out yet this semester, now is a great time to do some trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

If the problem is just feeling overwhelmed or are struggling with motivation and accountability...

  • Prioritize your assignments, studying, and outside obligations. If you have a lot going on (classes, work, extracurriculars, home responsibilities, etc.), it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and not knowing how and what to prioritize. Take a few minutes to think about where majority of your time is going and if that aligns with your goals. For example, should you cut back on your hours at work or household chores so you can spend some extra time focusing on your courses? If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that your classes and finishing the semester strong should be a top priority. Have conversations where needed: with your employer, family, campus organizations, and others. Let them know how you are feeling and what is going on. Chances are these are people that care about you and your success, so they'll understand if you need to cut back for a bit until you get back on track.

  • Pick a good study environment. Choosing the right study environment can make all the difference in your ability to focus and stay motivated. Know the type of environment you study best in (for example, by yourself or with others). Minimize distractions by leaving your cell phone in your backpack or in another room. If you are studying with others, have everyone put their phones in a central location to increase accountability (consider making a challenge: whoever picks up their phone first during a study session has to buy the whole group coffee or ice cream). Try putting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode to minimize distracting notifications and text messages. Check out the hours for the Volpe Library and/or book a study room!

  • Find an accountability partner. Whether you study better with others or by yourself, finding an accountability partner can help you stay motivated and accountable to studying. The best part? Your accountability partner doesn't have to be in your same classes or major! You can help hold each other accountable for what you say you are going to do and reward yourselves after the fact. 

  • Take breaks (but not for too long). You may feel drained and exhausted from studying and working on assignments, as well as everything else you have going on, so make sure to take some breaks as you need them to clear/reset your mind. Go grab a coffee or lunch with friends, or get in a 30-minute workout at the Burn. While breaks are definitely important, make sure not to get too distracted. Set a timer if needed and hold yourself accountable to that. Use your break to rest and rejuvenate to feel even better when you go back to studying.

  • Eat proper meals and bring study snacks! Studying on an empty stomach can be a big distraction. You don't want to be focused on your growling stomach instead of your chemistry assignment, so make sure you are eating proper meals in order to stay healthy and focused. While it may seem like a good idea to skip meals for study sessions, this can actually be counterproductive, and your time will definitely be better spent eating a decent meal. While a pop-tart or ramen may seem like a quick meal solution, these may not be the best options. Avoid greasy, sugary, and heavy meals, as they tend to make you feel sleepy and lethargic. Be careful on the caffeine intake! Instead, eat meals that are filled with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in order to kickstart your brain for productive studying.

We hope these tips help you get back on track! If you find yourself still struggling, make sure to reach out to your academic advisor for further guidance in finishing the semester strong.

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