It's week eight of the semester and you're pretty sure you just bombed that biology midterm that you really did study for. And suddenly, as you check your grades online with an overwhelming pit in your stomach, hesitant to calculate the percentages for each class, you ask yourself, "How did I go from receiving mostly As and a B or two in high school to, 'I really hope I don't flunk this class' in college?"
The truth is, you aren't alone. And believe it or not, you aren't stupid or mediocre, contrary to what that voice in your head has been telling you. At some point or another throughout your undergrad years, I guarantee that you will feel this way (if you haven't already), whether it's in an upper-level course for your major or in a core-credit class that feels like it definitely should not be as complicated as you've found it to be. Regardless, I'm here to tell you that things are going to be fine and that you won't be forced to drop out and work at Burger King for the rest of your life--especially if you remember these eleven key things that all struggling college students should hear.
1. College is hard.
It sounds redundant, but sometimes we need a reminder of the fact that maybe the #1 reason the A's aren't as easy-attained anymore is simply because we've entered the world of higher education. The whole idea of studying a little bit each day is finally starting to make sense now, and reaching out to professors and advisers is even more important. They usually really do want to help, and believe me--they've been in our shoes.
2. Core classes can actually help you.
I know I speak for many when I say that I've been in more than one core class that has the potential to tank my GPA, and it feels unjust, knowing I'll never really apply the information in my major anyways. However, if you take a second to really search that course catalog for some courses that sound interesting to you, I guarantee you'll actually enjoy that 1 o'clock American History class; especially when you start applying that knowledge you've gained to politics and world issues that interest you today.
3. Weekends exist for a reason.
While it might be appealing to put that project off another day to stay up all night with your best friends and binge-watch pirated Broadway musicals on YouTube, something tells me that you and I both know you won't be thanking yourself the next day when you can hardly keep up with the PowerPoint slides in class as you fight to keep your eyes open.
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4. You deserve this education.
We didn't spend our high school years stressed out about getting good enough grades for nothing. We put in hard work to get accepted to our schools, whether it was managing to get a B+ on a ridiculously hard chemistry test our junior year, or taking college-level AP courses to earn college credit early. Be proud of what you've done already, and be proud of what's yet to come.
5. Your friends will understand if you need to study.
There will always be more time to go out, but there won't always be enough extra credit to get your grade to where it needs to be. So stay in to crank out that 2,500 word narrative.
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6. Don't feel the need to quit your extracurricular activities.
It's all about balance. You can still play intramural basketball and stay in your a cappella group if you factor in those time-allotments with enough time to finish your homework (and get at least six hours of sleep; homework shouldn't start at 10:30 pm).
7. Take care of your mental health first.
Don't isolate yourself. If you have any of the common mental health concerns that often arise in college-age adults due to all kinds of stress, email or call the campus health center to make an appointment with a counselor. These services are often free at many schools, and it's completely confidential.
8. Going to a tutor doesn't mean you're dumb.
It took me a long time to realize this one, but asking for assistance academically is nothing to be ashamed of. Your grades aren't going to get any better in your difficult classes if you can't keep up or understand what's being discussed. Tutoring is often offered for free on campuses, and most of the time, students who did well in the class you're in will be the tutors you encounter.
9. Eating healthier will make you feel better, all-around.
It's no secret that eating junk will make you feel like junk. And while it's easy to grab quick comfort foods on your busy, jam-packed days, fried, sugary foods will make you feel even more sluggish before sitting through that three-hour night class. So do yourself a favor and attempt to find some balance between the pizza nights and the grilled chicken nights.
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10. You're only human, and that's okay.
We slip up and forget assignments sometimes because a thousand other things are swirling around our minds. Or, sometimes, we can't even bring ourselves to get out of bed to face the day because the last three days finally catch up with us. Email your professors to get the notes or check the class website to make sure you know what assignment is due next--just don't fall too far behind.
11. Don't give up!
If college wasn't difficult, you wouldn't grow as a person. You're gaining skills for the career that will support you throughout your entire life. Embrace this time and make the friends you'll have for years to come. Study hard and relish in the thought of the day you walk across that stage to receive your well-deserved diploma!