Pretty soon, you’ll be taking submitting your first round of college papers or taking your first college exams. And maybe you’re used to nailing A’s with hardly an effort. Get ready: you’re in a brave new world, and you might not have done as well as you thought. I speak from experience – my first graded college paper was a rude awakening.
If you flunked your first exam or college paper, here are a few reasons why (along with some suggestions for how to fix them).
You Were Victim of a Time Suck
When you were in high school, you probably had someone reminding you to turn off the TV and do your home work. Now there are tons of distractions: roommates, hallmates, Xbox, football games, social media, the list goes on … and there’s no one to remind you to get to work.
Solution: If you flunked your last exam, ask yourself: was it because you lost some valuable study time to a time suck? Are you spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter? Are you hanging out with your roommate when you should be at the library? Deep down, you know the answer. Turn off your phone and other devices and get to work.
Your Class is Over Your Head
Everyone comes into college with different levels of knowledge and skills. And when you sign up for college classes, you can’t always be sure of what they will entail. If you failed your first assignment even though you worked really hard on it, it could be because that particular class is a little more advanced than you thought it was.
Solution: This doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up or drop the class. It just means you need to understand where you are in relation to the material, and figure out what you need to do to catch up. Utilizing office hours and your teaching assistant or graduate student instructor are great options for getting back on track. You may also want to consider getting a tutor, or requesting the help of a friend who has already taken (and passed) that particular subject.
You Didn’t Study Hard Enough
Going from high school to college is sort of like going from junior varsity to varsity. The playing field is different, and so you need to adjust your practice accordingly. If you flunked your first major assignment, it may be because you studied the same amount of time you would have studied in high school.
Solution: Step it up. Set aside extra study time. Make flashcards, organize group study sessions, and get extra face time with your professor. Talk to upperclassmen about their study habits, and how long they give themselves to study for midterms and finals. The key is to try as many new ways and methods of studying until the one that works best for you.
The good news is that if it’s early in the semester, you still have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments and get back on track. Most importantly, don’t feel awful about one bad grade; accept that these are growing pains and can only help you improve during the rest of your college career.
Did you flunk your first college paper or exam? How did you cope? Let us know in the comments below!