I work with a lot of students who have gotten through a tough semester or two and are now doing so well that I ask them to share their success strategies with first-year students. Almost without fail, when I ask them what changed between those challenging times and now, they share similar stories.
This is what they have told me has helped them get on track:
They got organized.
Yes, they knew that a good time management system was crucial to succeeding, but they never really used one. Many told me they bought their first planner or calendar and started using it every day.
They got motivated.
For some, they used their negative experiences and their low GPA as a motivator. Now they had to improve their grades or they would be suspended. While this is not the best place to be in, it did make every move count.
They found a passion.
These students would point to a course or a career goal that got them excited about learning. They said it helped them feel as though they were working toward a purpose and they started enjoying college or university for the first time.
They found a mentor.
These students found the one classmate, coach, advisor, or faculty member who helped them believe in themselves. Without a doubt, these people served as the “rock” they needed to get back on track.
They learned to manage their stress.
Staying healthy and creating some balance in their lives was the fuel to keep them going, even when the going got tough. They ate better, slept better, exercised more, and felt good more often than not.
One of the best parts, my students said, of having experienced some low times in college or university is that they now feel more confident and more interested in helping others in similar situations. You may find that once you get through this time—and you will get through this time—you’ll make a great mentor for someone who is going through the same thing. You can show them they can survive and even thrive after a setback.