Are you worried about your course work? You might have fallen behind due to taking time off or could have been finding it difficult to concentrate during classes. It is easy to feel like you have “messed up” and slipped into a situation that you can’t rectify but Think Positive have collected some top tips to addressing worries about course work.
- Speak to your tutor, lecturer or academic adviser
They are there to help you and understand the pressures of completing your studies. It might seem like a daunting task having to explain what has been going on for you but it can really make a big difference. Mental illness is generally an invisible illness- while people who know you well might be able to see changes in your mood and behavior a lecturer you only see in large classes might be less likely to pick up on this so starting that conversation is really important. If you feel unsure that they will support you then speak to support services- all staff should be supportive of your mental wellbeing and encourage academic staff to explore reasonable adjustments to help you carry on with your studies.–
Planning is something that some people will see as an key part of studying but for others it just doesn’t come naturally. It can, however, make a really big difference to helping you manage your course work. If you create a solid plan for deadlines and research time then you might even want to include some leeway. Recognising that some days you just won’t be able to achieve what you have planned and that is OK is important! It is never too late in the year to bring a study plan into action and if you are unsure about what to include then you should be able to ask an academic adviser for help with this. Be creative with how you make your plan and find a way that works for you- it could be colour coded post-its on the wall, email reminders or a mind map. You might even find a handy app like Evernote, Self-control which blocks your time-draining web habits, or something like GoConqur which helps you quickly build your own study resources.–
- Talk to other students
You might feel that you are the only person struggling with a piece of course work or in meeting a deadline but other people in your classes might be feeling the same way. Have a chat with some people on your course and see how they are getting on- if you are all finding a piece of work difficult then it would be a good thing to bring up with your lecturer. If a fellow classmate has got the hang of it then they might be able to offer you some guidance in better understanding the question or assignment or the process you have been asked to complete.–
- Ask for feedback
Disappointed with one of your grades? Don’t be defeated by this- there are lots of opportunities to make up your credits with other assignments. Getting feedback from your lecturer or tutor on why you were awarded the mark and what you could have done to improve it will offer some valuable 1-2-1 time and should allow you to reflect on your current knowledge. If you don’t get timely feedback on your work then it can feel like you are moving through your studies blindly which can add extra stress.–
- It is OK to take time out
You might feel like you only have one chance to perform but there are lots of options and routes you can take if you are finding it really difficult to stay on top of your work. Life happens and while it might not be what you hoped taking a semester, trimester or a whole year out can be really good for you. Coming back to your studies when you are feeling more resilient and in a better place to tackle the many demands of studying can be really empowering. If you are thinking of dropping-out speaking to staff at your institution could reveal an alternative which could mean retaking modules or repeating a year. There are lots of different options and you might find the right one for you.
We got in touch with an expert for further advice, academic adviser Kendall Richards,
“I am a lecturer but my main role is that of Academic Support Adviser for the three schools here on Merchiston: Computing, Engineering & Built Environment and Creative Industries.
In this role I support all students (including distance learners) in their learning through embedded support in Programmes of study, group consultations and individual meetings. This is a very heavily used service”
Kendall suggests speaking to somone as early as possible and, if you have a longterm illness so let people know the impact on your work.“Often students come to see me when they are falling behind in their work.
This starts as a conversation about academic work but can sometimes be directly related to mental health problems, learning difficulty and/or physical disability or illness. In these cases, with the students permission, I direct students to the wide and varied support available within the schools and wider university community.
There really is a lot we can do to help our students if we are made aware of difficulty with keeping on top of work.”“Think ahead as much as possible. If you have three modules there is a strong likelihood that you may have three separate coursework due at same time.“As soon as you get an assessment find some time to sit down and brainstorm what you need to do to get it done.Break the assessment down into tasks and sub-tasks and have a rough idea what you need to do for each. Speak to your lecturer if you are not sure and come and see me, if you are in one of the three schools, to do this together.”“Think ahead. Make up a calendar/planner for the semester and colour code it with due dates and key dates for the tasks and sub-tasks. Mark in other events outside of uni that may impact on work.I cannot stress how important it is to let us know if you have any problem at all. If you are worried that you have let it go on for too long without getting the work done, don’t just leave it. Speak to someone.”
Kendall Richards is an Academic Support Adviser at Edinburgh Napier University
Have you experienced difficulties in managing your mental health and your course work? What did you do that helped and what made things more difficult? We would love to hear your experience- email firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us on twitter.