The beginning of your freshman year of college was probably full of hope. This was an opportunity for a fresh start and new beginnings. Whether you were a top student in high school or had struggles, this would be different. With the freedom to study what you wanted, and socializing with a new group of people, you probably were excited, even if also a little nervous.
Some students can dive into their college careers and succeed from the beginning, but many others struggle. The independent learning style required to do well is a dramatic change from what many are accustomed to. Also, distractions, in the form of new friends, an active social life, or even juggling a job with classes can make it difficult to get the kinds of grades you need. Finally, your first foray into higher education may expose a high school program that was less rigorous than you anticipated.
If you end your freshman year, or your first semester, struggling with your grades, there is hope. The important thing to do is address the problem immediately. Avoiding the issue will only get you further behind. While most colleges provide some leeway, once you struggle for more than a semester you may face academic restrictions.
Lighten Your Load
If you work while attending school, rethinking that may be all you need to do to improve your grades. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you should spend studying outside of class. When you look at your schedule, it may seem like you have blocks of uninterrupted time that allow you to easily work part or full-time hours. Plan on spending at least a few hours studying for every hour of credits you have on your schedule. Classes with labs and in subjects where you are weak require additional time. You can take out a student loan with a private lender to help cover expenses. Doing so reduces the financial pressure that can make focusing on your studies challenging and frees up the time you need for homework.
Tighten Up Your Schedule
For someone who hasn’t attended college, this may seem like an unnecessary statement. Once you are there, however, you see that many of your classmates don’t bother to attend class regularly. This is a dangerous habit and it can hurt your grades. Even if attendance isn’t counted as part of your grade, the process of sitting in class, taking notes, listening, and asking questions cements your understanding of the subject much more effectively than having a cram session the night before a test.
Use the School’s Resources
You don’t need to be failing a class to take advantage of the tutoring services available at your school. The options vary, and you may need to schedule an appointment or there may be open hours, but use this service at the first sign you may have trouble. Other options to boost your grades include working in study groups while building your network, and visiting your professor during office hours to address specific questions or concerns. These resources are made available to help you learn, and you should take advantage of them all.