5 Steps to Getting Back on Track in School

Last semester not your best? Dust yourself off and try again.
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How to Get Back on Track in College: Our step by step guide to recovering from a bad semester and improving your study skills for better grades

At some point in your college career, there's going to be a class or even an entire semester where you didn't do as well as you hoped. That was definitely the case my first semester in college. I had a hard time adjusting to college academics and my grades reflected that. 

In a perfect world, we would never encounter any academic hurdles, but that's not reality. It's so easy to become disheartened in college, but by working hard to get back on track you can use this experience as a lesson.

With a new school year starting up, now is the perfect time to get back on track academically. Here are five steps to success from someone who's been there:

1. Stop Beating Yourself Up

Failing a class or just not doing as well as you know you could sucks. Especially when you're paying money for it. 

It's okay to be disappointed and sad for a while, but getting stuck on failure doesn't do you any good. 

The first step to doing better in school is to realize you messed up and everything is still going to be okay. All you can do at this point is learn from your mistake and move forward.

girl doing work

2. Reflect and Figure Out What Went Wrong 

The silver lining in making mistakes is the lessons you learn from them. 

In high school I, like many other people, made A's and B's easily while putting in minimal effort. However, once I got to college, I quickly learned that I couldn't get away with that anymore.

A big part of why I didn't do as well I wanted my first semester is because I wasn't spending as much time studying as I should have. I wasn't prepared for exams and it showed in my scores.

Now, I plan out specific times to study and exactly what to study. I schedule study time into my life so I don't miss it or skip it.

If things didn't go as planned last semester, reflect on what went wrong. Were you too distracted? Try an app that blocks out distractions and even rewards you for doing so. Need to improve your study skills? See our post on how to do that. Always forgetting deadlines? Here's how to step up your organizing game this semester.

3. Practice Effective Goal Setting

One huge difference between college and high school is that a vast majority of learning in college goes on outside of the classroom. Therefore, you're the one in charge of making sure you're making the most of your education. 

The best way to staying on top of school is to set goals and milestones. 

As we've mentioned before, there's a science to goal setting: The best, most achievable goals are specific and "bite-sized". One goal you may have for this upcoming semester is to "make good grades." A more specific goal is to make at least a "B" in all your classes by averaging an 85 on all your exams and by completing all your homework on time. 

From there, can you decide what you need to do in order to complete those smaller tasks. Breaking your goals down and figuring out what you need to do in order to achieve them, makes it much easier to reach your full potential. 

4. Get Organized 

2018-planners

Some of my favorite planners: 1234

One of my favorite mantras is "Proper planning prevents poor performance." By being organized and knowing where and how to spend your time, you not only save it, you also use the time you have more effectively. 

My #1 tip for anyone going to college is to invest in a planner and actually use it. Even though there are so many pretty ones out there, planners are more than just accessories. We've talked about how to use one effectively before and those tips still ring true. By creating a daily to-do list, I give myself a set list of goals I can aim to accomplish every day. 

Another way to have an effective planner is to make it fun! My favorite way to do that is by adding planner stickers. By making my planner cute and colorful, I actually enjoy writing in it and looking at it later. 

5. Know How/When to Ask for Help

Even with all the proper planning, goal setting, and dedication in the world, we all still need some help sometimes

One reason why many of us have a hard time in school is because we're going through our own problems and school falls by the wayside. If this sounds familiar, don't be afraid to talk to someone. Check to see if your school offers counseling or peer mentoring. Sometimes talking to someone with an outside perspective is exactly what you need. 

If you're still struggling academically, actually go to your professor's office hours or the campus tutoring center. These people are here to help you and actually enjoy doing so. You're paying for these resources through tuition, so why not take advantage?

What Do You Think?

Have you struggled in school? Do you have any tips for starting off the new semester strong? Let us know in the comments! 

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