What To Do If You Are Falling Behind In College Courses

It happens to the best of us. We slip up on finishing assignments, there's a thousand things that need to get done in one week or a few days, and we get overwhelmed with how much we have fallen behind in our courses. It okay if this happens to you. Obviously don't make falling behind a habit, but at some point, you will probably experience it. Below, I offer some tips and pieces of advice to follow if you find yourself sinking in classwork and are behind in completing projects or assignments.

Talk with your professors and TA's

People don't know what your are going through or struggling with until you tell them. Therefore, make it a priority to talk with your professors or TA about your situation and see if they can help you. Being honest, the worst thing they can tell you is "sorry, no" or the typical "this isn't an emergency, so I can't make exceptions". But, you might have those few teachers who understand that life happens and may be able to offer advice or help with assignments that you are falling behind on. So, don't put off asking for help or guidance if you find yourself falling behind.

Don't wait until the last minute to ask for extensions

If you wait until the night an assignment is due, you are going to get a big fat "no" as an answer if you ask for an extension (unless it is an emergency). If you know early on that you might need extra time or that you have fallen behind in other classes, reach out to your professor and ask for an extension as soon as you can. Typically, for reoccurring homework assignments (like math homework) they more than likely will say no, but it doesn't hurt to ask anyway for things such as larger projects.

Start time-blocking your day to help focus on specific classes

Time blocking is something I recently started using and it helps me stay focused and get to all of my classes a lot better than writing things down in "to-do" list form. With time blocking, you can set specific hours or minutes blocks that you want to spend doing a certain thing. For example, I could block out 3-4pm for math homework and block out 4-4:30pm for a quick English reading. With time blocking, you make yourself only focus on a particular subject or thing before you switch gears. This way, you aren't randomly hopping between subjects and distracting yourself even more.

Go to your academic success center for help

They are there on campus to help students with situations like these! They can offer coaching on how to tackle all of your assignments, give you pointers as to staying organized and focused so this doesn't happen again, and are overall a great resource for any other academic concerns you may have over the course of the school year. They are free to make an appointment with, so I highly recommend going if you are struggling with classes at the moment.

Reflect on why you fell behind to prevent it from occurring again

Once you get back on track, you want to take time to figure out why you fell behind in the first place. Was it something unpreventable, such as an illness or family emergency? Or was it something you could have prevented such as procrastination, poor planning, or being unorganized. It's important to find out the root of the problem that way you know next time what not to repeat or what bad habits that you need to work on.

Also, it is worth mentioning that if you find yourself falling behind due to a health reason (physical or mental), don't be afraid to go to student counseling services or your doctor's office on campus for help. They are great resources for students and can assist you with whatever health concerns you have.

Hopefully these tips will give you a starting point regarding what to do if you start falling behind in classes. In college, stuff piles on really fast. So, do your best to avoid having the reason you fell behind be procrastination or poor planning.

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