Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. Snowstorms, hard drives crash, grandparents die, cars break down, and we get sick. Maybe your just going through a really bad day, week, or semester. All of these things happen to us and have the potential to cause a negative effect on our academics. However, it is EMPOWERING to remember that there are steps you can take that are totally within your control that can help mitigate the damage of unfortunate things out of your control. Below are some tips you can follow to try to prevent Academic Disasters.
- BE PREPARED!
Just like in a natural disaster, survival in academics can come down to your preparation. Especially if you are worried about your grades, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Missing classes at the beginning of the semester is not wise. I usually go by the rule of using only one of my allowed absences for a day when I really just don’t want to go to class (maybe I stayed up too late), and the other 3 I save for illness or days I might be traveling. This is assuming you get 4 absences. The number of allowed absences varies from school to school, and the amount of credit hours each class is worth. Be sure you are aware of how many absences you are allowed.
- Sometimes we have technological “disasters.” If your printer is out of ink or refusing to print don’t give up! Have a mental list of alternate printers you can use (the one in the library, the one in the student lounge, the one at the office) . Also, for presentations or papers you have to bring to class, bring multiple forms. For example, if you are giving a PowerPoint presentation email it to yourself, and put it on a flash drive, and bring hard copies of the slides just in case. If a paper is due in ten minutes, and you just ran out of ink, email it to your professor BEFORE class, and then let them know DURING THE START of class that you have already emailed it to them because your printer was not working. Be sure to mention that you can still print a hard copy for them, but you wanted to show them that you at least had completed the work.
- Communicate with your professors
Although it may at times seem untrue, professors know that you have a life outside their class. Sometimes we just have to gently remind them of that.
- If you have to miss class let your professor know ASAP! Do all you can to let he or she know well in advanced that you will be out of class. Explain to your professor that you understand from the syllabus what subject matter you will be missing that day, and ask if you should do anything to make up for it. Try to do this in person (office hours, before/after class).
- If something unexpected comes up, and you miss a class, let your professor know. You don’t have to explicitly tell them why, but do express your regret for missing class. Again, ask if you can do anything to make up what you missed. You should do all of this even if the class you missed was one of your allowed absences. This builds a rapport between you and your professor, and is showing them that you care about the subject that they have chosen as their life’s work.
- Use the school’s resources, such has their health center or disabilities office, if necessary and applicable. These resources communicate with professors often, and may be able to get extensions on due dates or extra allowed absences if you need them.
- Don’t cry wolf. Show your professors you have a respect for their class, and they are more likely to respect your needs.
- Take care of yourself
Life can sometimes be a series of unfortunate events, but don’t let that get you down!
- Recognize what is in your control, and what is not.
- When “disaster” strikes it might be helpful to write out an action plan, or flow chart of what you can do and see all the ways you do control your fate. For example, your car is in the shop, and you think you might have to miss class. What are your options?
- Use and “abuse” your school’s resources (health center, counseling center, disabilities office, advisors, writing center, librarians, career center, work out facility, etc.) Remember that you are paying tuition not just for credits, but all the resources available to you as a student. Once you are no longer a student, these resources are no longer as available, so take advantage now!
- Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and then answer yourself what you can do about it. Ask yourself what is the best thing that can happen, and answer yourself how you can make that happen.