Tips for Students Struggling Halfway Through Their First Semester

October 12, 2023 at 5:00 AM
Girl struggling in college

Transitioning from grade school to college can be a major adjustment. During this period, individuals move from small class sizes to large lecture halls, face a significant increase in their workload, and must exercise greater self-discipline. For many students, this marks their initial venture into independent living, which can lead to emotional challenges, making it difficult to concentrate on their academic responsibilities.

If the first half of your first college semester has proven overwhelming, don't give up. There are effective strategies available to help you regain your academic confidence. Our team of counselors at Educational Attainment Services has compiled a list of useful tips on how to avoid struggling in college.

Create a study group

Starting college is a significant learning curve for all students. Many individuals find it overwhelming as they try to catch up on missed lecture notes, manage their reading assignments, and allocate sufficient time for studying and completing projects. One effective way to ease the challenges of this learning phase is to rely on your fellow classmates for support. While many students often form friendships in their dorms or through clubs, we highly recommend exchanging contact information with a few peers in each of your courses. This way, you'll always have someone to turn to for notes, clarification on study materials, and reminders of important dates. When exam season arrives, meeting with your study group can also help you maintain your focus.

Go to the library

Numerous new college students can find the expansive campus libraries intimidating. In high school, library visits were often sparse, but college libraries offer a vastly different experience, providing students with a wealth of learning resources, printing services, and dedicated workspaces. Choosing to work on your academic tasks in such a tranquil, concentrated setting can significantly boost your productivity and provide a clear distinction from your dorm room, where distractions may lurk around every corner.

Use a calendar

During grade school, students benefit from daily reminders to complete assignments or get ready for exams. However, in college, opportunities to enhance their grades are typically limited to a few crucial moments during the semester. Examinations can account for up to 100% of a student's final grade, making deadlines exceptionally high-stakes. Moreover, professors often do not explicitly mention deadlines or exam dates during lectures, as students are expected to discover this information within their course syllabi. To prevent missing these critical dates, the most effective approach is to maintain a calendar on your phone, computer, or even a physical one displayed on your wall.

Visit office hours

In contrast to grade school, where teachers often know all their students by name, college professors may interact face-to-face with only a handful of students throughout the entire semester. This discrepancy arises from the practical challenges of addressing every student in a large lecture setting. As a result, professors typically provide specific office hours during the week, inviting students to approach them with questions or concerns. We strongly recommend making the most of these opportunities to engage with your professors and seek guidance on how to excel in the course.

Speak to a counselor

Should you encounter difficulties during your college experience, seeking assistance from a counselor can be a valuable move to obtain guidance and establish a reliable support network while navigating your academic path. A counselor can assist you in managing both the emotional and practical aspects of your first semester. If you are currently applying to colleges, our counselors are happy to help you right from the start of your post-secondary adventure so that you can avoid unnecessary struggling in college.

Contact us today for more helpful advice on how to navigate your first semester in college.