Is it taking you four hours to do homework when it should have taken you two? Are you working overtime, but getting minimal results? Do you easily lose focus in class? Get unsatisfactory results on tests and papers?
Don’t wait for poor grades to spring into action. Pay attention to these signs that indicate the need for additional support before you end up with a low grade.
1. You’re working hard, but not seeing results.
You overhear your classmates saying that they did their math homework in less than 30 minutes, but it took you nearly two hours to get through all the problems. Maybe it just takes you a little longer to do your work, and if that’s all it is, just budget your time and continue to work hard. Your grades will soon reflect your hard work. If your grades aren’t commensurate with the time you’ve committed, take steps to resolve the problem. Make an appointment with your teacher, guidance counselor, or advisor for help and support as to how to get past the hurdles. Alternatively, getting a tutor that can help you learn how to read with focus and intention, as well as take notes, maybe a good solution.
2. You realize you are flipping through your reading, but not retaining anything.
Did you spend one-hour reading history, and not recall a thing you read? Are you finding yourself daydreaming when you go through your English work? Do you find yourself in a fog after spending time with your science books?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you don’t know how to read to understand, process, and retain the academic material. As above, seek the advice of your guidance counselor, or a tutor, for some basic study skills. Once you’ve mastered the basics of studying, you will be amazed at how you can zip through your work and retain most of what you learned.
3. The basics don’t make sense.
You’re starting a new unit in biology, and the introductory lecture may as well have been delivered in ancient Greek. Everyone else in your French class can ask for simple directions and order from a French menu, but you’re still stuck on “Bonjour.”
If a subject seems difficult or confusing at the outset, ask for help immediately rather than waiting to see if it makes sense to you eventually. Don’t get stuck in a web of confusion!
4. Study stress is making you physically ill.
Are you noticing more stomachaches or headaches than usual? Or maybe you’re suddenly plagued by sleepless nights.
Stress and frustration when doing schoolwork that you find especially challenging can lead to some unpleasant physical symptoms. Identifying that schoolwork is causing you stress is the first step to conquering anxiety. First, talk to a doctor or the school nurse to make sure there isn’t something else going on with your health. If school stress seems to be the cause of your physical woes, then the next step is to discuss the problem with a parent, teacher, coach, or guidance counselor.
5. You feel you need extensions on your deadlines.
If you are usually the sort of student who gets his or her work done on time but suddenly finds yourself overwhelmed with too much work and too many missed deadlines, you may need to stop and take a step back and see where your systems are breaking down. You may just need to reorganize your approach to managing your time. Or it may be that the material is giving you more trouble than you realize. Either way, it’s time to ask for help.
6. Your outside-of-school life is distracting you
Everyone has to deal with personal problems and issues throughout their lives. Sometimes these issues take center stage and distract us from our work. If something comes up in your life that feels big to you and feels as if it could compromise your attention to your studies, ask for help.
Don’t miss the signals that you need some help with schoolwork. Once you read the signals, act right away. Talk to your teacher, your guidance counselor, a coach, or a parent. They want you to succeed and can help you find the tools to make sure that you do. You won’t be the first student who is frustrated by slow progress. There might be a small problem that is easily solvable with a few minor changes. But there could also be some real issues that will require extra help. You may benefit from a study coach or a tutor, both of whom can work to help you get back on track.