Encountering Difficulties?

It is not uncommon for students to struggle with the transition to college or with classes in any given semester.  If you are experiencing difficulty, use the information below to find help to get yourself back on track. 

What to do if you fail your first exam

If you do poorly on your first exam, you are not alone. Many new students must adjust to the increased rigor and higher expectations in their first semester at U-M. The reasons for performing poorly on an exam can vary from not displaying an understanding of the content of the course, to learning new study habits and using new resources, to personal issues the creep into our academic lives. Here are some strategies and resources to help you learn from this experience and improve for the next exam.

Meet with your Instructors or GSIs to assess what caused you to earn a bad grade on the last exam

Instructors and GSIs are experts on the content of each course you take.  Was the poor grade because you did not follow a specific test taking procedure? Was it because you did not grasp a specific concept, upon which much of the exam was based? Was it because because you did not study properly or enough? Instructors and GSIs have office hours (check your course syllabi) and are prepared to help students understand where they can improve.  You should use their office hours to learn course specific strategies to perform better next time.

Change how you prepare for the next exam

Armed with advice from your Instructor or GSI, you should also reflect on how you will prepare differently for the next exam. How will you manage your time in class, differently? How will you manage your time and resources leading up to the next exam? How might the way you learn  or process information influence how to should study?

We all have personal lives, and sometime the circumstances of our personal lives affect our academic performance

The Office of Counseling and Psychological Service (CAPS) offers many services to help students navigate and overcome many different challenges. CAPS offers many resources to deal with wellness issues: They offer one-on-one appointments with trained counselors. They offer yoga  and meditation  groups. They even offer the Wellness Zone, a self-service space where you can decompress through gaming and other therapies.  In addition to these services they also offer counseling and groups sessions on common issues facing students, such as test anxiety, stress and time management, and understanding procrastination. 

What to do if you start to have difficulty in a course during the term

Meet with your Instructor and GSI right away to discuss your options.  It is normal to feel intimidated about the idea of meeting with a professor in a large class.  However, you may be surprised by how much you can actually do to boost your grade in the class you are struggling in.  For tips on talking with your professors go to the Strategies for Success page on Consulting with Faculty

Meet with your Academic Advisor right away.  Your academic advisor can point you to a variety of resources that you may have never considered.  Your advisor can also help you realistically assess the impact this class will have on your term and cum gpa.  To schedule an advising appointment call 764-0332. 

Use available supplemental instruction and tutoring resources.  Many departments offer tutoring and other forms of help for students struggling.  To see a list of these resources go to the Strategies for Success page on Course Specific Strategies.

What to do if you discover that you are failing most of your classes

Meet with an academic advisor ASAP.  Your academic advisor will help you understand the process for a term withdrawal and may help you schedule an appointment with an Academic Standards Board Member.  

Meet with you instructors/GSIs to see if you will be able to salvage your classes.  For tips on talking with your professors go to the Strategies for Success page on Consulting with Faculty.

Schedule an appointment with an Academic Standards Board member to discuss your options.  These options will vary depending on the time of the term.  It’s best to see a Board member as soon as you realize you’re having difficulty as you will have more options for managing your semester earlier in the term than later.

Reflect on why you are failing.  Is it because of health or mental health issues?  Are you working too many hours at a job? Are your course choices inappropriate for your interests and skill level?  Are you having distracting conflicts with your friends or family members?   In the best of worlds, would you prefer being out of school doing something else?  If there are personal issues effecting your academic performance, visit the Office of Counseling and Psychological Service (CAPS).  CAPS offers many services to help students navigate and overcome many different challenges.

What to do if you are having trouble finding a major

It is not uncommon for students to struggle to find their major.  Fortunately there are people and resources to help you find your major and your path through your undergraduate years.  Whether you began with one major and are now changing your mind or have had difficulty deciding on a major from the start, it is never too late to find your way to a meaningful completion of your education.  A purposeful exploration of your options can help you discover new ideas.  This exploration begins with using the resources available to you.  

Focus: focus.lsa.umich.edu

Designed to be an easy starting point for students exploring majors and minors, here are some of the site’s key features:

  • Students can see all LSA departments on a single page and easily browse through them.
  • Each department is represented by a clean, attractive page with a brief description, followed by a link to the department’s own page (so students can see what specific majors and minors are offered and read more about departmental policies and requirements).
  • A visually-appealing layout gives students a quick feel for the array of choices and each department’s general focus.  To accomplish this, departments have been color-coded according to broad categories (e.g., humanities, social science) to help students sort according to skill-sets and intellectual approaches. 

Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss how to explore the course guide, majors, minors, and supplemental studies.  Before your appointment look over the advice on choosing your major on the Newnan Advising Center’s website at www.lsa.umich.edu/advising/academicplanning/choosingamajor.

Visit the Career Center to learn how your interests connect to the skills valued in different careers and how this can help you find a major. Their Career Guides  highlight curriculum requirements, as well as skills and abilities that may be developed and applied through each major. The Career Center also offers two career assessment tools to help in your choice of academic major or career: The Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Survey.

Attend the Major and Minors Expo and department information sessions.  The Major and Minor Expo is held in winter semester.  This is your chance to talk with faculty and students from every LSA department to learn more about their majors.  LSA departments also hold informational sessions during this time.  Go to the Majors and Minors Expo page for details.  For a schedule of department information sessions throughout the year go to Majors Events page.