How to know when to ask for help with your studies

There are many types of students who seek help in many different ways, but the two main types are those who ask for help often, and those who only ever ask for help when they are already in dire straits. For most people, there is a point when we realize we need help with a task. For students, it’s usually when we notice our grades are dropping, but by then, it may prove difficult to get back on track without considerable effort. So, how do you spot the early warning signs that you’re heading towards trouble? Read on to find out:

Your grades are dropping and staying there

You may have one bad grade and this should alert you to an issue, but not necessarily put you into full panic mode. One bad grade might indicate a rather difficult subject, or that you’re experiencing a rough patch in life. If your grades are consistently lower than your usual average though, this indicates a problem with comprehension or distraction.

It may mean you’re not fully grasping the course content and need some help to understand what you’re learning. It may also mean you’re not putting in enough effort or letting your life get in the way of your studies. Regardless, it’s extremely important to ask your tutor for some help if this is happening to you, and this is even more important if you’re doing an online course, as consistent low grades will be likely to leave you feeling unmotivated to continue.

You’re often asking for extensions, or you seem to never finish course units

If your course requires you to hand in work on a set date, but you’re always asking for extensions (or even extended extensions), or you don’t need to have your work back on a particular date, but you never seem to complete any units, then this indicates an issue with time management and you may need to pare down your commitments to either study or other factors.

Sure, life can often get in the way of study. Many people studying online are doing so because they have jobs or family commitments that get in the way of your commitments; however, online courses are usually designed to be flexible and you should be able to fit them in. If you aren’t managing this, then you may need to take a look at your schedule and find out where you’re going wrong. Realistically, you only need about an hour of study time  a day to advance at a pace that’s considered adequate, so are there any gaps in your day in which you could be studying, but aren’t? For example, could you be studying while on your commute to work, during the ad breaks while you’re watching the television, or even while you’re getting your kids to bed? It may seem like a lot of effort, but if you work slowly but surely, you’ll get there in the end.

You procrastinate

Similar to the above point, procrastination is a real study killer that wastes time and causes demotivation. If you find that you’re procrastinating often, try to identify the reason for it. Maybe you no longer enjoy your course (see the below point), or maybe you’re afraid to tackle a difficult subject matter or feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have. Whatever the reason, it’s something that you can definitely change, but you’ll need to be fully dedicated to it and give yourself a good, motivating kick up the rear in order to move forward. As mentioned, if you’re having trouble understanding the course material, the best thing to do is talk to your tutor, fellow students or somebody else who understands the material. If it’s a feeling that you just have too much work ahead of you, then break the work up into manageable pieces, start with the most difficult topics first and once you’ve managed to complete a few of them, you’ll feel much more motivated to push forward. If you realize you aren’t enjoying your course anymore, read on…

You hate your course and want to quit

If you are really having to push yourself to do your work and you feel like you made a mistake with your choices, then this could be for a couple of reasons. First, maybe you feel as though you hate your course because any of the above reasons have made you feel completely overwhelmed, guilty and demotivated. If this is the case, then great – you can do something about it, get back on track and start to enjoy yourself again. If – on the other hand – you really, truly don’t like the course and realize you’ve chosen the wrong field, then it might be time to rethink what you’re doing and make a change.

The good news is, you don’t have to give up on study completely. On the contrary, you can simply switch to another course that you DO love – it’s easier than you may think! In fact, if you’re switching to another course in a similar category, you might even be part way through it already, as you’ll be able to use the topics you have done already as recognition of prior learning. Regardless of what you choose, talk to your tutor or course advisor before making any rash decisions, as you might have so many more options than what you realize. Good luck!

The CFS Team
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