How to Get Back on Track in Academics for College Students

Forming a study group can help college students get back on track academically.
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For many students, the transition from high school to college can be fraught with challenges. With an increased workload and no one nagging you to remind you to study, it’s easy for your academic priorities to slide in favor of social engagements -- or extra sleep. If you’re in college and struggling academically, it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities to get to your studies back on track.

1 Reflect and Assess

The first step you need to take to address your academic slide: Figure out what went wrong. Did you take on too many classes? Get involved in too many on- or off-campus activities? Party a little too hard? Whatever the reason, it’s time to make a change. If you feel overwhelmed by the rigors of your schedule, talk to your academic adviser about toning it down. If you’re being pulled in too many directions, it may be time to cut out an activity. If your social life has been taking precedence over your coursework, it's time to dial back the fun.

2 Talk to Your Instructors

If you’re in the middle of a semester and struggling with understanding or learning the coursework, talk to your professors. Chances are, you’re not the only one who is or who has struggled with the material, and your professors likely can recommend tips for succeeding in class -- or even access to a tutor or teaching assistant if need be. If you're planning for next semester and know that you've struggled with similar course material in the past, introduce yourself to your professor and ask for advice in advance.

3 Learn How to Study

If you glided through high school with minimal effort and little studying -- and still pulled A's and B's -- you may be shocked at the workload and pacing associated with a college course. You may think you learn better while multitasking, but research shows otherwise. For instance, a study published in the “Higher Education Journal” showed that students who were allowed to text during an exam had significantly lower grades than those who were required to turn their phones off. Another study, published in “Computers and Education,” showed that students who were allowed to multitask took between 22 percent and 69 percent longer to read an assignment. To study more effectively and improve your concentration, turn off the social media, the electronics and the music. Focus on the task at hand, and your grades will likely benefit.

4 Find a Study Group

Unlike high school students, college students typically have hours or days between classes. If you have a test or large project coming up, resist the urge to fill those time gaps with video game marathons; instead, find a study group. If you don’t know where to start, talk to your professor or ask your classmates, or search a local-group website such as If one doesn’t exist, start one. Create a sign-up sheet and pass it around to classmates, or ask your professor if you can make an announcement during class or post an announcement on your class Web page.

Jennifer Brozak earned her state teaching certificate in Secondary English and Communications from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. A former high school English teacher, Jennifer enjoys writing articles about parenting and education and has contributed to Reader's Digest, Mamapedia, Shmoop and more.