Academic Help

“I’ve Fallen Behind in my Classes!” 

Students studying

Tips for Students 

 Lydia Minatoya, Ph.D.  

Edited by Jenny Mao, Ph.D.  

North Seattle College – Counseling Services 

Take a deep breath and tell yourself not to panic, freeze or ignore the situation through use of distractions or denial.  Consider temporarily clearing out your calendar, reduce work commitments or other responsibilities to meet your deadlines. In a kind, calm voice, tell yourself you can get help by following the steps below. 

 Step 1: Communicate with your instructors.   

  • Explain any obstacles you are facing and tell them you are interested in the course content and you respect their instruction.  
  • Ask their advice on what major topics to focus your understanding, so you can catch up.   
  • Ask at what level of detail and understanding they will test: solving problems; understanding case examples; recognizing facts and information in multiple-choice tests? 

Step 2: Pay attention to deadlines and test dates.   

  • Do not try to catch-up the night or weekend before a test. 
  • If you need a deadline extension, read the syllabus on late policy.  
  • If there is flexibility with due dates, email instructor requesting an extension.  
  • If there is no flexibility with deadlines, move on to the next set of assignments.  

Step 3: Prioritize assignments starting with those with the closest deadlines 

  • Use “chunking” strategies to break large, complex sets of assignments into smaller chunks so you can complete them by the due dates.   
  • Space your study of these chunks over days, creating a study plan to submit your work by the due dates. 

Step 4: Work backward on missed assignments  

  • If due dates are flexible, create a plan and a timeline on completing missed work. 
  • Create a to-do list for assignments missed and commit to sticking with your timeline. 
  • Start with what you can easily complete and submit. 
  • Follow step 3 for the larger, more complex assignments. 
  • Seek etutoring and instructor office hours to support your learning  

Step 5: Talk to a NSC counselor to develop a study plan and learn to manage your schedule.  

  • North counselors help students succeed in college by coaching them study strategies such as time management, stress management, test taking, test preparation, concentration, and/or test anxiety.  
  • Make an appointment with a counselor by requesting an appointment here.   
  • If you have a disability, consult with the Disability Services Office about accommodations.  

Step 6: Talk with your advisor and/or financial aid to discuss your academic options.  

  • If you are on financial aid and think you need to drop one class to succeed, first go to financial aid to discuss consequences of dropping one class.  
  • If you believe you need extra support to explore academic options, meet with your advisor as they are part of your support team.  

NSC faculty counselors help students identify careers, select programs of study, strengthen study skills, manage personal challenges, deal with crisis, confront prejudice and learn other student success skills.

©Lydia Minatoya, 2016; ©Revised by Jenny Mao, Ph.D. 2020. Counseling, North Seattle College. Distribution for nonprofit educational purposes permitted when reproduced in full, with inclusion of this copyright statement. 

Jenny Mao, Ph.D. Pronouns: she|her|hers
Counseling Faculty 
North Seattle College

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