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Picking up the Pieces Academically


Picking up the pieces academically can be challenging. Also, I truly believe that no one sets out to flunk college.  As with anything, life does not stop because you decide to enroll in school. You can have the best of intentions and yet things happen. For the young person fresh out of high school, it could be the fact that you weren’t used to your new found freedom. You didn’t know how to handle your new social and academic lifestyle.  For the single parent, your support system may have broken down, or you were laid off from your job. So, instead of focusing on homework, you chose to focus on how you were going to take care of your family; which meant that school was no longer the priority.  Your GPA suffered, you lost your financial aid and found yourself questioning if college was truly meant for you?  If the desire to finish was there, then it was. There are several things you can do support your chances of finishing should you decide to enroll again.

Only take what you can truly handle. If you  have a full 40hr work week, it is recommended that you take between 3-5 credit hours per term; for a 30 hour work week, 3 to 9 credit hours;  for a 20 hour work week,  6 to 12 credit hours and anything less than twenty hours per week, 2-18 credit hours per term.

Expand your support circle.  Often friends and family members will not always be there. Babysitters fall through and cars breakdown.   Some college campuses have various support groups, clubs and programs that offer support.  They can also serve as an excellent resource, especially when you experience a little trouble with your initial support system.  Ask around, go online and check out what the college has to offer for the student experience.  Include support research in your plan to go back.  Inquire if student’s ride the local transit for free or receive a discount.  Free or low-cost public transportation can be helpful especially if you experience trouble with transportation.

If offered, join a mentoring program.  Initially, when I started college, I was figuring things out on my own. When I joined a mentoring program, I found that navigating through college became a little bit easier. Due to the guidance from my mentor, I didn’t make as many mistakes.  Mentors who have already earned their college degree are really great at preparing you for what’s to come. Some colleges offer mentoring programs within the major and some offer standalone mentoring programs.  Inquire about both of them.

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Continuously meet with an academic and financial aid adviser. Don’t get your schedule at the beginning of the year and never check-in again. Your friends may have the best intentions when giving you academic advice, but please seek input from a professional adviser.  Get a greater understanding of both academic and financial aid penalties in advance.  Please don’t go back to school just for financial aid money alone. If this is your motive, you are truly setting yourself up for failure.  Students who don’t graduate and leave college with thousands of dollars owed in student loans and a poor GPA make coming back all the more difficult.  Uncle Sam still wants his money with interest, degree or not.

If you have been placed on academic and financial aid suspension, inquire about your schools’ appeal process and file one. Make sure your supporting documentation is attached to your appeal to increase your chances of approval. If your appeal(s) is not approved, you may want to look attending another institution and starting fresh.

Study labs and libraries will be your best friend.   I encourage you to take advantage of both, besides your tuition covers it so why not.  If possible, try and complete the bulk of your assignments while on campus, especially if you have children.  The college environment is conducive to both learning and studying versus your home environment. At home, the distractions can be non-stop.  If for some reason I wasn’t able to complete my assignments, I would have to wait until the kids were in bed before I could complete them. Now I’m competing with sleep. Again, try and complete your assignments on campus.

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Don’t be afraid to finish what you started.  Go ahead and try again, only this time have a sound plan in place and get some additional help. Don’t suffer in silence. Retake any necessary classes, pay out of pocket if you have to, just don’t quit on yourself and your future. Your degree is possible and within reach.

Take Care

Janet Michelle, xoxo

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