What to do when you’re falling behind on your coursework

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StudyPerth
Oct 10, 2019

StudyPerth Marketing Intern, Justin Nguyen, takes us through the challenge of coursework and what to do if you find yourself falling behind.

Education is all about learning and experiencing. But it can be challenging if you start to fall behind your studies.

Luckily, there are many strategies to help you stay on top of your classes and coursework. In this blog, we will discuss strategies to help you study more effectively, manage your workload and stop playing catchup with your classes.

Get organised

For most people, it is difficult to stay on top of the coursework if you don’t know how to manage your time. Without an effective strategy that works for you, things will inevitably slip through the cracks.

Here’s a simple time management system, which I adopted from Cal Newport’s book How to Become a Straight-A Student to get everything you need to do on your radar:

  • Write it down. Use your phone (or notebook) to jot down important information during the day; appointments, meetings, events, deadlines, and tasks.
  • Keep it updated. Using your preferred method (electronic or paper-based), update the important information on your calendar and to do list.
  • Plan it out. Take time in your day to plan, ideally first thing in the morning. Make the job more actionable by breaking it down into smaller tasks, and schedule time to work on them consistently.

Find time to unwind

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you." — Anne Lamott.

It’s tough to think about taking breaks when you have a lot of things to do. But when you push yourself too hard, you’ll end up exhausting yourself. Taking a break from study refreshes your mind, increases your retention of the material, and brings new insights when you come back to study again.

What works for me is that I take a five to 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of studying. This can vary among individuals. Play around with the timing and find what works best for you.

Things you can do during that short break:

  • Take a walk
  • Do some stretching
  • Answer/send a text
  • Read something unrelated to your coursework
  • Get a cup of tea/coffee

After a long day of studying, reward yourself by hanging out with friends, watching a movie, or playing sports which help de-stress and rejuvenate your mind.

Talk to your lecturer

If you have tried the strategies above and are still having problems, speak with your lecturer or tutor. Talk to them about your situation, and he or she can help you or refer you to someone who can.

I speak with my lecturer when I have questions or troubles relating to the unit content or assignments. If you have a specific problem (writing, referencing, stress, missing home), you should find a learning advisor or a counsellor, which we’ll cover in the next section.

Use your institution's support services

Studying is challenging, with a mix of assignments and exams, part-time jobs, all while maintaining your social life.

Education institutions have a variety of support services to assist students with their challenges. Using your institution’s website or student hub, you can find information on available services, ranging from learning support to counselling services. For example, if you struggle with writing and referencing, attend an academic skills or English language workshops. Or if you feel overwhelmed and stressed, you can book an appointment with a counsellor.

What are the strategies you use to stay on top your studies? If you find this blog helpful, share it on social media and use the hashtag #LiveLearnLaunch or tag us @StudyPerth.

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About Author

In collaboration with governments, educational institutions and stakeholders, StudyPerth provides a leadership role in building the profile of international education in WA and overseas.