Just a Battle, Not the War.


College Algebra-oof. That was that first class that officially handed me my ass. Sister Marie Brinkman-ugh-she was the first professor I took that made me feel udderly and completely out of my league and dumb. Latin-need I say more?

All students have moments in college that feel like the end of the world. Like the first test you have failed-ever. It can feel big-huge-epic.  I can still remember that feeling to this day. Did I survive? Yes. Did I keep going? Yes. Did I make it through college? Yes-3 times as a matter of fact. You are in college not because you know everything. Not even close. If you did, they wouldn’t exist and you wouldn’t be there. So let’s check our egos at the door, commit to learn in every way, and accept and honor the growth that should be happening.

What parents and students sometimes do not know is that the ability to bounce back from these setbacks can build resiliency as well as set the tone for completing college. Even better, it also builds muscles to deal with life setbacks down the road. When I was conducting research on college student drop out rates there were several attributes that surfaced fairly quickly. 1. Students’ common coping skill was avoidance. If something went wrong, they would much rather stay in their comfort zone instead of addressing the issue. 2. Students who had faced and overcome adversity in their life were able to continue in school easier than those who had not. These observations are not at all confined to my research. They are directly in line with national researchers such as Angela Duckworth and Malcom Gladwell. Look them up, this girl is a groupie. If you aren’t a total book nerd like I am, here are 5 tips to help you bounce back from a set back in college:


5 Ways to overcome setbacks:

1.       Talk to you professor. Reach out, send an e-mail, make an appointment or grab an office hour. All of the years I worked at a college, I never heard a faculty member say, “man, that one cares about his/her/their grade too much. The come around way too much!” I did, however, hear many more times than once, “I hate to enter a failing grade but they never came to me. I could have helped them if they just reached out and communicated with me.” I’m not saying this is an easy task-it’s not. Like anything else it takes practice and bravery. It can be really intimidating to talk to a college professor, but they are the expert. You are paying not only to watch them teach, but for them to watch you learn. If anyone is going to be able to cut right to the chase and offer suggestions on how to raise your grade, it’s them. Need help getting through the door? Hit me up.

2.       ALWAYS take advantage of extra point opps. Extra isn’t extra. Don’t make any additional opportunities optional. I can’t count the amount of times I have seen students miss a grade by a few points. In the worst case scenarios, miss a passing grade and have to retake an entire class again. Not only do they have to pay for it again, they have to sit through it again. Which, BTW, has a not so great pass rate. Students often get a lower class the second time through. Riiiight.

3.       Get a study buddy. Look to the left. Look to the right. Who in your class is getting it? Who is that kid that knows all the answers because this stuff is her/her/their jam? Physics? They got it. Math? Loving it. While you may want to vomit, someone in there is in their happy place. Reach out and ask them to study together. Form a study group. It can make a huge difference!

4.       Use the free campus resources. Check out what your school has to offer. There are free supports on every campus. And when I say “free” I mean part of your tuition and fees. These typically can include tutoring, mental health counseling, health services, food assistance, spiritual support, and career centers just to name a few.   You are already paying for it most likely. Milk the free resources on your campus for all they are worth.

5.       Reach out for help. If you are feeling in over your head, talk to your advisor, someone in the residence hall, an athletic coach, or a coach like me (there is a big difference). There are academic policies that can help you preserve your transcript. Things like a W grade may be an answer to help you navigate a class with out killing your GPA. But-it’s important you talk to someone that knows what they are talking about more so than your roomie or a dude on your lacrosse team. Ask a professional what to do. We are here to help.

Molly Kreyssler