Common College Problems and How to Solve Them
College is great. But it’s also really hard. If you’re struggling, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here are some of the most common college problems and how to fix them–or avoid them all together.
1) Being unprepared for tests.
It’s so easy to get too comfortable in the first few weeks of classes, and then be totally unprepared when the first test rolls around. If you’ve already taken a test you’re not prepared for and done poorly, you can’t save that grade but there are a few things that you can do to do better moving forward. First things first, go in and talk to your professor. Ask them to see a copy of your test if you haven’t already. You want to figure out where you went wrong so you can do better next time. Ask them to explain questions you got wrong or direct you to sources where you can learn more.
From here on out, study consistently throughout the semester. It’s not glamorous and nobody wants to, but if you get in the habit of regularly reading your textbook and reviewing your notes after class, you’ll be much more prepared for your tests without having to do a lot of cramming the night before.
In addition, start your test studying well in advance. A week or so before your test, sit down and make plan about how much you will study every day before the test. This will help space out your studying so your brain doesn’t explode, and will make sure that you have enough time to over everything.
2) A concept that you definitely, thoroughly do not understand.
This happens to the best of us. You’ll be doing great in your class and breezing along until suddenly a concept is introduced that you simply cannot wrap your brain around. Unfortunately, the rest of the class will probably build on this concept, so if you don’t get it now you’ll be behind the rest of the semester.
Instead of letting that happen, be proactive when you run into something that you don’t understand. Google it (I can’t believe how many good online resources there are for college students, like https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse and https://www.khanacademy.org/), go visit your professor in office hours, visit the tutoring center, ask a classmate, do something! Don’t just ignore it and hope the concept never comes up again, because it will.
3) You totally forgot about a big due date.
This is really easy to do if you have a professor who expects you to live and breathe by the syllabus and thus never announces things in class. To prevent this from happening to you, make sure to go over your syllabus and write dates down. Check your calendar/planner often.
If you have happened to miss a due date, there are a few things you can do. Does your professor accept late work? If so, make sure to turn in the assignment as soon as possible. It’s much better to be docked for being late than to get a zero. If you’re not sure if they accept late work but you’re on good terms with your professor, ask them. Apologize profusely, don’t offer lame excuses (professors can see right through those), and ask if there is a chance you can turn it in today. If they agree, be sure to get it to them by the promised time. If you can’t an assignment in, watch out for extra credit opportunities and jump on them. Work hard on the rest of the assignments and study well for the tests. If you can pull good grades for the rest the semester, a missed assignment won’t ruin your grade. Just don’t let it happen again!
4) You can never find time in the day for everything you need to (or want to) do.
Maybe you keep meaning to go to the gym, but you never seem to have the time. Or your friends invite you out, but you have to do your homework for the next day. Somehow, you never seem to have free time. Maybe some of us are really that busy, but for a lot of college students, there is a lot of free time to be found if you can schedule your life right. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to procrastinate and waste time instead.
To solve this, sit down and make a plan of how you want to spend your day. Maybe you have an hour in between classes that you usually spend vegging. If you get some homework done then instead, you could have time to hang out in the evening. If you wake up an hour earlier, you’ll have time to go to the gym. There is likely time to be found for the things you want to do, you just have to be consistent with a schedule or you’ll lose it.
5) Escalating roommate conflict.
Maybe your roommate used the last of your milk, so you turn the thermostat up to where you’d like it instead of the agreed temperature, just to spite her. She doesn’t realize you’re upset about the milk, so now she’s upset with you too. Does something like this sound familiar? It’s easy for roommate conflicts to escalate quickly and make your living environment uncomfortable and hostile.
To fix this, you’ve got to talk about things. Let your roommate nicely know if something is bothering you instead of being passive aggressive about it. Something quick like, “Hey, if you could ask before you borrow my milk, that would be great!” is way better then stewing in bitterness for the whole semester. It’s hard and uncomfortable at first, but much better than the alternative.
6) Feeling lonely or like you don’t have any friends.
This is rough, but it’s really common for freshman (and everyone else! I didn’t meet my gang until partway through my sophomore year, and our friend group has grown every year since)! Remember that most everyone else doesn’t know anyone either and wants to make friends too! Reach out to people in your dorm or building. Leave your door open, or hang out in common spaces. Try to join a club or two that matches your interests, or join an intramural sport. Talk to your classmates. Sometimes it’s hard to find people that you totally click with, but keep reaching out to new people and you will find your tribe, I promise. In the meantime, be friendly and remember that everyone else wants to make friends too and will most likely be relieved if you talk to them!
What problems did you run into college? How did you solve them?