Whether you’ve flunked one class or all of them, you may take it as a sign to chase other dreams or just call it quits altogether. But hold up, because we’ve got some advice on how to retake those courses that put up a fight the first time around.
Along the way, you’ll hear advice from Andie Burazin, a lecturer at the University of Toronto Mississauga who went from flunking out of university to receiving her PhD in Applied Math. So jump back into the ring, SLNer, and show that class that it hasn’t seen the last of you just yet.
Figure out what is (or isn’t) motivating you
It’s hard to get up and try again when you don’t have the right motivation. Andie’s was simple: “I didn’t want to have that ‘what if?’ moment. I’m not a quitter,” she says.
Your motivations, on the other hand, may be more complicated than that. A good exercise is to ask yourself what your big goal is. What do you really want to do?
That might take a little time to figure out, but contrary to what they told you in high school, you don’t have to figure it all out on the spot and decide right now.
But do figure what would motivate you to succeed and start chasing that. If it’s not school, or your current program, then it might be time to consider a different path.
What’s your real problem?
So if you’ve figured out what you want, consider what could have caused you to fail the first time. Were you putting in the effort? Were you attending class and doing the readings? Did you ask for help? Did you understand the material?
“My parents were very strict – I love them to death, but they were old school. When I got to university, I just didn’t know how to manage myself, and I didn’t understand the concept of freedom, so I failed a lot of my courses.”
For Andie, it was her lack of discipline and time management skills that caused her to be kicked out during her first year of university. “I skipped classes and didn’t do my work,” she explains. “My parents were very strict – I love them to death, but they were old school. When I got to university, I just didn’t know how to manage myself, and I didn’t understand the concept of freedom, so I failed a lot of my courses.”
It’s not easy to admit that you screwed up, but it is the first step.
“Okay, I screwed up, how do I fix it?”
If you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it. You need to make some changes to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. Consider:
Your priorities: I’m not saying to bid farewell to everything you love, but if you really want to achieve your goals, you’ll have to start putting them ahead of some of your hobbies. You might have to start declining more party invitations, or at the very least start showing up fashionably late sometimes. You should also consider covering fewer work shifts, or asking group members to send you summaries of club meetings.
How you study: Everybody has different ways of studying, and even different subjects may require separate study methods. Switching up how you study is not only refreshing, but a new method may work better for you than your old ones did. Consider changing environments, taking notes by hand, and reviewing a little bit every day, or vice versa, if you already do these. The point is, find what works for you.
Your schedule: Planning out the next day (or week, if you’re me) in advance can really help keep your head clear and your mind focused. First, mark all of your due dates and tests, followed by any non-academic events. See the gaps leftover? Use that time to study and work on your assignments. Of course, don’t forget to give yourself some time to goof off and relax and be a functioning human being.
Getting help: Send your professor or TA emails whenever you get stuck. And, seriously guys, go to their office hours! Half the time professors set this time aside to talk to their students, and nobody shows up! You can also look into getting a tutor, as spending a bit of time every week with them can really help your understanding of the material. “Do what you’ve got to do and ask for help; there is no shame in asking for assistance,” adds Andie.
Half the time professors set this time aside to talk to their students, and nobody shows up!
When she went back to school, Andie made a schedule for herself and actually sat down and did the work. “I studied for tests 2-3 weeks in advance – in fact, I studied so much that I would shop the night before a test, just to calm myself down,” she explains.
Figure out what the requirements are to obtain what you want and go after it. Be determined — dedicate yourself to it.
If you need to re-take a course, make sure that there aren’t any limits or restrictions stopping you from enrolling in it again. Check your prerequisites, and while you’re at it, take the time to review the prerequisite material, which will help your understanding of the new stuff.
If you’ve been kicked out of university, you can try to appeal the decision, like Andie did, although — like for her, it might not work. In that case, understand how long you’ve been kicked out for, and use that time to prepare yourself for when it’s time to write your applications. Consider whether you’ll be reapplying for the same school or trying a similar program at another institution. Look into the application process, and get your documents, portfolio, and other materials ready for when the floodgates open.
Andie’s advice to students like her?
“Keep trying and don’t quit. Nothing in life comes easy, and while some people have it on a silver platter, most of us don’t. Oh, and find what you’re passionate about, what will make you go ‘yes, I want to do it!’ when you wake up in the morning. If it’s basket weaving, be the best basket weaver out there. Just find something that makes you happy to be alive.”
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.