help for struggling college students

Advice for Students Struggling in College

Stress is a commonality found among college students today. In 2021, more than four out of five college students reported feeling stressed—often due to financial constraints, academic pressures, distance learning challenges, and macro factors like the ongoing pandemic. If you are struggling with stress as a college student, know that you are not alone. There are resources available to you.

Unfortunately, over 75 percent of students haven’t leveraged any support offered by their college or university to help handle and cope with stress. If you are struggling in college, researching the resources available at your college – or asking for help from a professor or mentor – can be a significant step forward. Below, we offer five essential pieces of advice for college students, as well as different resources you can tap into depending on your needs.

5 Tips for Students Struggling in College

1. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

It can be intimidating to ask for help, but most college students are grateful when they finally do. Your professors’ job is to prepare you for success, and they are willing to help you out when you need it most. Do not hesitate to ask for mentoring after class, an extension of a deadline, or even a second chance at an assignment, if you feel you are struggling. Be open and honest with faculty about what’s going on, and you will find they will often work with you to make sure you thrive.

2. Tap into your school’s resources.

Your college or university is chock-full of student resources, from counseling centers to tutoring labs. There are resources for students who are struggling academically, emotionally, financially, and even socially. There are resources for students who are stressed about future planning. Best of all, these resources are free to college students. Read below to determine which areas you’re struggling in, and which resources are available to you.

3. Set goals for yourself.

Goal setting allows you to set your sights on the future. It allows you the chance to think about, and remind yourself of, the things you’d like to accomplish in the near- and long-term. These goals may stretch ahead to graduating college, or may be short-term accomplishments like achieving a B+ or higher on an exam. A goal may be as simple as accomplishing a number of tasks in a given week.

By setting goals, you can then begin to establish an action plan and work towards building success. By having a plan, you can in turn reduce stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Not only should you set goals, but you should also consider writing them down. Research shows that written goals raise the chances of achievement by 42 percent.

4. Change your routine, your environment, or your study habits.

Are you struggling to stay focused on assignments, or to dedicate time in the day towards your studies? Are you feeling distracted by other people or ongoing to-do lists? Sometimes, struggling students need a change of pace. This might mean arranging an area of your home to dedicate towards studying. It might also mean changing the way you approach learning in class. Consider trying new notetaking methods, investing in a planner, or carving out time in your day to dedicate to school. This can help ease stress and help you identify how you might learn and study best.

5. Practice self-care.

Of course, part of managing stress effectively means prioritizing your own mental health. Do at least one thing a day that is for you—something you enjoy, or something that helps you relax. This might mean reading a good book, watching a movie, taking a bath, going for a walk, journaling, exercising, or other methods of self-care. Ensuring you take care of yourself will in turn help you learn and retain information, as well as provide you energy and peace even in difficult times.

Are You Struggling Academically?

One of the most common ways that college students struggle is with their academics. In higher education, there is often an increased demand for analytical and critical thinking, on top of the inherent need for students to learn new systems and processes at school. Many college students also struggle with the new class schedules and formats in college, while others may get distracted by social activities that take away from their grades. This is all normal, and often requires a transitionary period.

If you are struggling academically, however, rest assured that there is help available to you. All you have to do is seek out the right resources at your college or university. At Goodwin University, for example, students have access to the Academic Success Center where tutoring (online and in-person) services are available. Most colleges and universities also offer students an individual academic advisor, to help them on their journey and to openly communicate about any struggles along the way.

Ask your college about the tutoring options available to you. Many schools, like Goodwin, offer subject-specific tutoring (such as Math) as well as general tutoring to help learn technology, or prepare for upcoming exams. Some institutions will also offer online or e-tutoring options, for students who take online courses or who do not live on campus.

Do not hesitate to take advantage of academic services. You can utilize them whenever you need to, even if that means every day to carve a path towards success.

As one nursing student, Olivia Stacy, said of her experience with Goodwin’s Academic Success Center: “The tutors empowered me and ensured that I would overcome my academic struggle. They do any and everything in their power to guarantee the success of their students. They aren’t just tutors. They are people who have once been in our position and can relate to us.”

Are You Struggling Financially?

Between college tuition, class materials, and independent living expenses, there are several costs that students need to balance while in school. This is especially true for students who also have families to take care of, or other obligations at home. In fact, cost is one of the most common reasons why people put off their college education—they are afraid of the financial burden. Fortunately, there are ways to make college more affordable.

If you are struggling with college finances, speak to your institution’s financial aid team about your options. Many colleges and universities will offer financial aid in the forms of grants and scholarships, meaning you do not have to pay it back. At Goodwin University, over 90 percent of undergraduate students receive financial aid in the form of grants or scholarships.

You can also ask your college about work study options. Federal work study programs are sometimes available to students in the form of part-time employment. At Goodwin, students may work up to 15 hours per week as part of this program, allowing them to earn a paycheck while attending college.

If you cannot find work on campus, consider broadening your job search to the local community. You may be able to find part-time employment in local businesses, particularly during peak seasons when stores are looking to bring on extra help. Other unconventional ways to earn extra cash include driving for a ride-share service, running errands through companies like Instacart and Postmates, becoming an online tutor, and dog sitting or walking in the community. If you are looking to get ahead in your career, however, you may consider seeking part-time work in your field of study. For example, at Goodwin University, many nursing students will find administrative positions in local hospitals or clinics to gain exposure to the bustling healthcare environment.

Are You Struggling Socially?

The transition from high school to college can be difficult. From a social perspective, it requires meeting new people, adapting to a new environment, and finding new activities to enjoy. This level of change can be difficult for many college students, particularly those who do not live on campus. If you are struggling to make new friends or get engaged at school, do not hesitate to reach out to your college or university for help. Often, institutions will offer many ways to help students get involved and meet other students outside of class, including:

  • Organized events, such as trips to sports games, cultural celebrations, and on-campus fairs
  • Volunteer opportunities, allowing students to join together and give back to the community
  • Leadership opportunities for those looking to make an impact on campus
  • Clubs and extracurricular activities, as well as the ability to create your own group

Are You Struggling with Your Mental Health?

Mental health struggles are on the rise, and more people are receiving treatment in recent years. It’s easy to understand why, between our recovery from the pandemic, ongoing fights for social justice, a turbulent political climate, and social media driven society. College students are no exception—many students are struggling with their mental health while in school.

If you are facing issues with depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, it’s important to know that you are not alone. It’s also important to know that graduating from college is still possible for you, and there are resources that can help. Ask your school about their counseling options or support services for college students struggling with mental health.

At Goodwin, for example, students have access to individual, family, and group counseling sessions. Students may also receive crisis intervention, anger management, communication building, and veteran-specific mental health services. If you find yourself in need of counseling for any reason, our on-campus counselor is available to provide emotional support, referrals, case management, and follow-up sessions. These services are offered at no cost to students.

Are You Struggling to Find or Build a Career Path?

Taking classes and completing assignments is just one hurdle for many college students; however, carving a career path can be even more intimidating to the average student. College students are encouraged to gain experience, build career-specific skills, and make professional connections while they are still in school. However, not all students know where to start. If you wish to build your career path, but are struggling to find your way, you are not alone. There is help available to you.

Contact your college or university’s Career Services team for support. As offered at Goodwin University, this team of career experts can help you in a variety of ways to prepare for the future, such as:

  • Individual career coaching
  • Résumé and cover letter writing and review
  • Mock interviews
  • Job search assistance
  • Career fairs and employer networking events
  • Lunch & Learn workshops on a variety of career-related topics

And more! Many students do not know these services are available, or that they are available for life. At Goodwin, we want students to find success in careers they love. Sometimes, this requires some added support from the experts—and that is okay! Do not hesitate to ask your college, university, or even professor for help as you start to think about your future.

It is common for students to struggle in college, or to find their bearings as they transition into a new environment. However, it’s important to know that success is well within your reach. As long as you ask for help, utilize available resources, set goals, work hard, and take care of yourself, you will be able to complete your degree and land a career you love.

If you are interested in learning more about Goodwin University, request information online here.