How to Recover From the Mid-Semester Slump: Advice From a UF Academic Advisor

We are all guilty of avoiding our homework to cuddle up in bed and watch Netflix mindlessly for hours. I excuse this horrible use of my time as self-care, but at the end of the day, the only thing procrastination does for me is ruin my grades. Coming back to school from summer, it took me a while to get back into the groove of things and become re-accustomed to actual deadlines and homework. I would put off work and avoid studying, assuming that things would magically work themselves out.

I did try to put some effort in. Sometimes classes are just extremely difficult, and we allow this to get in our heads. I have always struggled with math, so when I had to take a math class this semester, I went into the class already expecting it to challenge me and get the best of me.

So, what do we do if this happens? If procrastination or a challenging class gets the best of you, what is the next step? There are a million different posts and stories out there about the best way to study or how to succeed in a class, but what happens when it’s too late for that?

1. Go to office hours often — and prepare before you go by checking the syllabus

According to Nicole Raymond, an academic advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, it’s important to acknowledge that there are steps we can take before things head south. It may be intimidating at first, but baby steps will get you there.

“First and foremost, read your syllabus, and see what office hours are available, and go take advantage of it, and go well-prepared to office hours. I would recommend reaching out to other students in the class to see if they are having the same problems and then creating study groups to help teach each other," she said. "Outside tutoring can also help, but try using school resources first because they’re free and tutors and resources on campus are most closely aligned with what is being taught on campus."

There are things we can do at the beginning of a semester, like Raymond said, but truthfully, not all of us take advantage of these opportunities available to us. So, after months in the semester have passed, and we realize that it’s too late to utilize all of this help that was available to us, it’s time to think of a plan as to what we’ll do next. As frustrating as it may seem, know that failing a class or an exam does not define who you are or limit your future. We have to learn from our mistakes and use these lessons to do better in the future.

2. If you have to retake a class, think of the positives

After failing a class, many students may think there’s nothing they could do to fix a mistake of that level. If it happens to you, though, there are things you can do to recover. 

“When retaking the class, go into it with a positive mindset,” she said. “The class may be difficult, but examine what you may not have done successfully last time and decide what you’re going to do different this time. The biggest hurdle to get over is not looking forward to a class. If you don’t have a positive mindset, it just sets you up for failure.”

The saying “learn from your mistakes” is cliché, but it's true. If you have to retake a class, learn from what you did wrong. If you procrastinated and didn’t go to office hours, try to change it your second time around.

Failing a class does not mean that your GPA or future is ruined forever. It’s hard to get over the initial disappointment, but if you have confidence and motivation to do better this time around, you could see a tremendous improvement in your grade.

Procrastination is not the only reason some students fail classes. Some classes — especially huge lecture-style courses or "weed-out" prerequisite classes — are genuinely difficult. As much as it hurts to have studied so hard for a class and still not pass, Raymond suggests reflecting on the way that you studied or how much time you actually spent studying for class — and perhaps thinking about what you can do differently moving forward.

“A fault in college is students study for classes the way that they would have in high school,” Raymond said. “Not changing the way that you study is problematic. Adapt to the professor and the class.”

While we might be studying and doing all the right things, we should consider studying differently for a certain class than the way that we usually would.

3. Take advantage of on-campus resources

Students at UF who need extra help in their classes actually have a variety of on-campus resources. Raymond referenced the Teaching CenterTutoring Center, and the Writing Studio, where students can have their essays reviewed by English professors and TAs.

Sometimes going to class is not enough, and we need these extra resources to assist us. Sometimes it’s out of laziness, and other times we don’t want to admit we need help, but these resources are here to help us when we’re in a slump. It’s perfectly fine to take advantage of them — in fact, it’s encouraged!

Besides places we can go to for help, there are also people here on campus that want to help you. The Counseling and Wellness Center has people who want to help you and are there to listen to you if you need a listening ear. As important as grades and GPA might seem, nothing is more important than your mental health. U Matter, We Care has the sole purpose of providing support for students who may need it.  

4. Remember: Grades are important, but the world will keep turning

Do not let failure stop you from trying again. Learn from the things that you did wrong and use it to improve. Sometimes, our procrastination and lack of energy to try get the best of us and no amount of study tactics or tips will help us. College introduces a variety of factors that make it hard to focus or do well in school.

Personally, I have felt the disappointment and fear that come from my grades starting to slip and not knowing if I would be able to recover. Ultimately, though, grades do not define who you are as a person. As long as you are willing to put in the effort and give it your all, that is what truly shows your character.