Many students experience academic difficulties at some point in their college career. In some cases, the difficulty is an isolated incident perhaps involving a disappointing grade in one course or a struggle with an exceptionally challenging course, but when difficulties persist and a pattern of academic problems emerges, more serious consequences can develop and lead to academic probation and even dismissal. Whatever the situation, address your difficulties directly by making an honest assessment of your individual situation, considering all of the factors that have caused academic difficulties, and then develop a plan to achieve academic success.
Academic advisers are specially trained to help you with this situation. Although it is often not easy to discuss these issues, taking advantage of our services is the best first step toward getting back on track.
Factors that Contribute to Academic Difficulty
Lack of Motivation
Motivational difficulties can include difficulty adapting to and feeling a sense of belonging in a competitive academic environment.
Adjustment to College Life
Balancing study with the new freedoms and responsibilities of adult living can be a difficult challenge. For some, it will take practice to develop the personal discipline required to stay focused at a large institution with so many opportunities.
Poor Study Skills
Students arrive at Berkeley with many levels of academic preparation. For some, the transition to Cal is seamless, for others, a real struggle. Weaknesses in academic preparation and an inability to organize study time can contribute to unsatisfactory academic performance.
Some students report having difficulty choosing a course of study or finding a subject matter that "fits" with their interests and abilities.
At times and perhaps unexpectedly, personal issues can affect academic performance. For example, issues involving health, personal relationships, finances and family obligations may overwhelm a student's ability to perform well in classes.
Tips for Academic Success
- Know the specific deadlines for adjusting and finalizing your schedule. Plan your semester accordingly.
- Prioritize and organize your study and personal time into effective daily and weekly patterns.
- Keep regular study hours and find the right kind of study environment for you.
- Maintain a personal academic calendar to keep track of exam dates and deadlines for assignments. Plan and prepare for exams and papers in advance.
- Engage fully in your courses. Attend all lectures, seek out your instructors, take advantage of office hours, and ask questions.
- Review comments and grades you receive on exams and papers. If you have questions, discuss them with your instructors or GSIs.
- Create your own resource network. Make a list of phone numbers and email addresses of faculty, GSIs, advisers, tutors and at least one other student from each class.
- Familiarize yourself with campus resources such as the Student Learning Center, Residential Academic Services, University Health Services, Career Counseling Library, and the Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parent Center.
- Find at least one mentor each semester (a faculty member, GSI, staff member, or experienced peer) to help you establish, nurture, and execute your plan for success.
- If you have received a D or F grade in a course, consider repeating it for grade points substitution.
- Take good care of yourself in every aspect of your life!