There are lots of reasons things may not be going well in your classes. Here are some of the most common issues:
Many students struggle with the transition to a new school, and often grades in the first quarter are lower than they might expect. Sometimes this problem seems to almost "take care of itself." That is, after a period of adjustment many students figure out how things work here and all is well.
Don't assume it is going to take care of itself.
Come chat with an adviser and get a second opinion. Be purposeful about your approach to the problem, which might include bits and pieces of the below issues.
Study Skills Deficits
You may find that the study skills you learned in high school or at your previous college or university don't work as well here at the UW, where things move very quickly in often very large classes. Different skills are called for, and the good news is, like any skills, they can be learned. Academic support programs are available to help you adapt, including subject-specific tutoring and late-night group study sessions at CLUE and academic achievement courses, which are geared toward improving your academic skills while you learn about a subject of interest.
It could be that you're feeling overloaded. Maybe you overdid it and signed up for 19 credits of Writing courses. Or you're trying to attend school full-time, work a full-time job, and have a social life.
The key to success is balance. Balance your course choices so you can utilize different parts of your academic repertoire. That is, take a problem-based/quantitative class (i.e., math) together with a reading/analysis class (i.e., literature) and a writing class (i.e., composition). That way you don't get too overloaded doing one thing over and over! Visit our page on Course Load for more information.
In the same way — to the extent you can — try to balance the school, work, and social/family components of your life. You may have to make some tough choices, and really think about your priorities and goals, both short- and long-term. For whatever reason, you made a decision to attend the UW; at some point it was a priority. You should be honest with yourself and decide what needs to come first now.
The choice will be different for everyone. Maybe you'll decide to cut back hours at work in order to make room for more studying; this might mean you have to tighten your budget or get a loan. Perhaps instead you'll take fewer credits per quarter for a while, or maybe decide to fight the urge to go out every weekend. We don't make these suggestions lightly or with any judgement. We just encourage you to be thoughtful about these issues.
If you decide to make changes to your school schedule for the current quarter, be sure to read about Alternatives to Dropping, which talks about S/NS grading, incompletes, hardship withdrawals, and complete withdrawals.
Hectic Living Situation
Part of coming to college is often entering a new living situation, many times one that you do not have complete control over. If your residence hall is too loud, your sorority or fraternity is too distracting, or your housemates have too many parties, you might want to reconsider your living arrangement. Maybe it's something as simple as having a serious sitdown with the offenders and making your issue known; maybe your Resident Adviser or Resident Director can help. Maybe you can spend some time finding a good quiet study spot on campus or on The Ave. You might have to collect your friends and go rent a house; the Office of Off-Campus Housing Affairs is a good resource. Or maybe, just maybe, you could approach your parents and see if your old room is still available.
If you have previously been diagnosed with a learning disability (or any disability that affects your access to the UW), or feel that you might have a learning disability, Disability Resources for Students (DRS) should be your first stop. DRS is committed to ensuring equal access to the University facilities and academic programs for enrolled students who have a documented permanent or temporary physical, mental, or sensory disability. Depending on the nature of your diability, they can provide or recommend accommodations to balance the playing field, things like notetaking services, more time on tests, and textbook audiotaping.
"Itís not unusual for students to run into academic difficulties. Sometimes itís because they arenít taking school seriously, theyíre taking courses that donít match their strengths, or sometimes life just gets in the way.
For students who have always been successful in school, admitting the problem is often the hardest step. No matter the reason, advisers and counselors can suggest steps you can take.
Most students are relieved when they finally begin to deal with the issue. Take that first step. Ask for help.Ē